JERUSALEM (May. 7)
Several dozen Jewish settlers led by Gush Emunim activists rampaged through the Arab town of Kalkilya in the West Bank before dawn Wednesday in reaction to a gasoline bomb attack on an Israeli vehicle Tuesday afternoon which caused no injuries or damage.
The incident increased tension in the area and exposed a deep rift in the Gush Emunim leadership between moderates and hardliners. Daniella Weiss, secretary general of the Gush Emunim, was questioned by police Thursday about her role in the assault. She refused to answer questions, refused to sign police documents and refused to be finger-printed.
The settlers broke through lightly staffed army barricades at the entrance to Kalkilya, which had been declared a closed military area. According to initial accounts, they hurled bottles through shop windows and burned tires in the main street. The few Israel Defense Force soldiers on duty did not stop them and no arrests were made.
Police said Thursday that no damage was caused to shops or buildings in the town. But differences smoldering within the Gush Emunim for more than a year came to light. Moderates deplored the violence while militants began organizing “patrols” to walk the streets of Kalkilya in a “show of Jewish force.” The town was put under military curfew Wednesday.
GUSH MODERATES EXPRESS CONCERN
Gush Emunim moderates have been complaining for some time that the movement was being diverted from its initial goal of more Jewish settlements in the territory to such issues as pardons for convicted members of a Jewish underground terrorist network and, more recently, violence against the Arab populace. Weiss, who speaks for the militants, acknowledged there were differences but claimed a majority of the Gush Emunim supported her.
Minister-Without-Portfolio Yosef Shapira of the religious Party Morasha, a member of the Gush Secretariat, criticized vandalism against Arab property and expressed surprise that “central figures in the Gush Emunim were responsible for these acts.”
Other moderates urged Jews to avoid Arab towns and refrain from business relations with them. Kalkilya, a market town near Kfar Saba, draws hundreds of Israeli shoppers daily, especially on Saturdays when shops in Israel are closed.
Tension has been running high in the area since an Israeli woman from the nearby settlement of Alfe-Menashe was killed last month in a gasoline bomb attack on her car.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin met Wednesday with Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron, central sector commander Gen. Ehud Barak and Police Inspector General David Kraus to consult on how to prevent conditions from deteriorating.
Abdul Rahman Abu-Sneineh, the Israel-appointed mayor of Kalkilya, said Wednesday that if the situation continued he could no longer control his people.