RAMALLAH (Dec. 11)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin strongly defended the intervention of the Israel Defense Force to quell disturbances that have swept the administered territories for the past week.
At a press conference in this West Bank Arab city Wednesday, Rabin denied the IDF was using an “iron fist” and said Israel has no intention whatever of changing its policies in the territories. He said the security forces would continue to do their utmost to maintain law and order. He said their restraint contributed to the relative calm of the past two days.
Rabin reiterated his charge that terrorist elements were behind the unrest because they deliberately sought to disrupt the tranquility in the region and undermine moderate Palestinians and the efforts of Jordan to help the local populace.
The week of violence erupted on December 4 at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, where the IDF and border police opened fire on rioters, killing two 22-year-old students. Two more Palestinian youths, both minors, have been killed during rock-throwing melees and about a score have been wounded. Israeli military personnel and civilians have also been injured, mainly by rocks.
“The decision (by the IDF) to intervene was the correct one,” Rabin said. Asked if his “iron fist” policy did not contribute to the unrest, he replied, “I don’t know of any iron and any fist.”