Israel Reports Better Economy, Less Violence in Territories

Economic and social conditions are improving in the administered territories and the incidence of disturbances and attacks decreased significantly between 1985-86, according to reports by Israeli officials this week. Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh, head of the civil administration in the West Bank, told reporters Sunday that the territory’s exports rose by 23 percent in the last fiscal year and its agricultural revenue increased by 63 percent.

Sneh and Brig. Gen. Yeshayahu Erez, head of the civil administration in the Gaza district, reported that 98,000 of the approximately 1.5 million Arab residents of both territories work in Israel.

The security situation was dealt with in the annual report of the Association for Citizens Rights released Sunday. Disturbances in the territories declined by 30 percent in 1986 compared to 1985. There were 154 attacks in 1986 compared to 284 the previous year, a drop of 46 percent, the report said.

Only two Israelis were killed in shootings in 1986 compared to seven in 1985; 62 were wounded in 1986 compared to 99 the previous year. But fatalities among local Arab residents were up 22 in 1986 compared to eight in 1985 from shootings. Seven lost their lives from Israel Defense Force fire. Sixty-seven local residents were injured by knife attacks in 1986 compared to 51 in 1985.

DETENTION DECLINE REPORTED

Prof. Ruth Gabizon, chairman of the Association, reported a decline in the use of administrative detention in the territories and efforts to rehabilitate refugee camps. “So far, 10,000 families from refugee camps have been rehabilitated in the Gaza district,” Gabizon said, and “Israel continues to be the only country in the world that is working for the rehabilitation of refugees.” The remaining refugee camps near Jericho have been cleaned up and improved living conditions are planned.

Gen. Erez said improvements in the Gaza district will focus on refugee rehabilitation projects, but the main problem is the “widening gap between geography and demography.”

He explained that the natural growth among Arabs in Gaza stands at 4.6 percent compared to 1.9 percent in Israel. There are about 650,000 Gaza residents living in an area about 1,500 square miles.

Erez said that according to recent surveys by the civil administration, about 75 percent of Gaza residents support the Palestine Liberation Organization, 25 percent favor a Moslem religious state and three percent identify themselves as leftwing extremists.

Erez estimated that the population of the Gaza district would reach between 900,000 and one million by the year 2000.

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