JERUSALEM (Jun. 8)
Israeli political and military leaders have expressed outrage over the armed attack by Jewish settlers on the Daheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem Sunday night. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin called the incident “a scandal of top magnitude” and condemned the “lawlessness” of settlers who used arms issued for their self-defense for such purposes.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the attack on the camp was “irresponsible and unacceptable.” Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron who visited Daheisha Monday called it “despicable.”
Thirteen settlers from kiryat Arba, the Jewish township adjacent to Hebron, were arraigned before a Jerusalem magistrate Monday for allegedly participating in the attack. Judge Aharon Simha said they would be charged initially with “illegal gathering.” Additional charges may be forthcoming when the investigation is completed.
According to Palestinian sources, 70 settlers were involved in the attack. Israel Defense Force officers spoke of six carloads. The IDF intervened after the settlers stormed the camp in the dead of night, firing rifle shots through windows and damaging property. There were no casualties.
Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of the central sector, called the assault the most disgusting act ever perpetrated by Jews in the administered territories.
Rabin said on a Voice of Israel Radio interview Monday that the attack was a case in point not to allow armed civilians to take the law into their own hands. “We shall do our utmost to prevent similar incidents and to assure that public order is maintained by the entire population in the territories.”
Rabin criticized “certain political elements” who have been critical of military commanders, who have been critical of military commanders. “This is an unprecedented development and all political factions should put an end to it,” the Defense Minister said.
He was apparently referring to the sharp attack Monday on Mitzna by Yuval Neeman, leader of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya Party, who objected to the general’s strong condemnation of the settlers. Neeman said he accepted the settlers’ version of events that they happened to be passing the camp and were stoned by Palestinians.
Mitzna said all evidence pointed to a carefully planned raid. He called the settlers’ story “a disingenuous bad joke.”
SUPPORT FOR MITZNA
Shomron, touring Daheisha with a small army of reporters and television camera crews, supported Mitzna. He said the general spoke on the basis of “facts.” Camp residents complained of lack of security. Some declared, “No one will scare us.”
Settlers on a Jerusalem-to-Hebron bus taunted the Chief of Staff as they passed the camp. “What are you doing here?” they called out while workers repaired bullet-smashed windows.
The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee adopted a resolution Monday affirming that law and order in the territories was the sole responsibility of the IDF. The resolution was approved by Labor and Likud members, but while the former condemned the settlers, Likud MKs criticized Mitzna for his caustic remarks.