JERUSALEM (Oct. 13)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin maintained Tuesday that the escalation of violence in the administered territories is linked to the forthcoming visit of U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and will soon abate.
Rabin told reporters it was possible that “outside elements” were trying to stir up trouble and create an atmosphere of disorder on the eve of Shultz’s visit. Security sources quoted by the news media seemed to agree. They accused supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization of inciting the local population to demonstrate their strength for the benefit of Shultz, who is due to arrive in Israel late this week.
Five Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed and dozens injured in clashes over the last three weeks in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The latest flare-up occurred in Ramallah Monday where border police opened fire on rioting Arab youths, fatally wounding a 35-year-old Arab woman passerby, Inayat Samir Hindi, mother of five children.
Five others wounded in the incident included a 15-year-old high-school girl, Ghadeer Omar, and a 68-year-old man. All were hospitalized and reported to be in fair condition.
According to security sources, border police fired into the air to disperse Arab youths waving Palestinian flags and portraits of PLO chief Yasir Arafat. When that had no effect, the police aimed at the demonstrators’ legs. Ghadeer Omar was wounded in the knee. The death of the woman who apparently had no part in the demonstration is under investigation. She was struck in the chest by a stray bullet.
RIOTS AND STONE-THROWING
Ten Arab youths were arrested in East Jerusalem Tuesday after they stoned two Israeli police vans. Riots broke out at Bir Zeit University and Bethlehem University Monday where students stoned Israeli troops. An Israeli woman motorist and a policeman were hit by stones in other incidents in the West Bank Monday.
In Gaza, Arab teen-agers erected road blocks and stoned vehicles with Israeli license plates. They were dispersed by troops firing into the air. The Board of Trustees of the Islamic University in Gaza declared a recess until tempers calm Its 5,000 students were sent home for the rest of the week.
Security sources said the recent eruptions of violence were the result of their having foiled several attempted acts of terrorism in the territories. Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron told reporters Tuesday that six terrorists who escaped from a maximum security prison in Gaza 18 months ago were responsible for a number of murders in the territory Five were killed a week ago in clashes with security forces and another was captured.
The upsurge of violence began before Shultz’s trip to the Middle East was announced. An Israeli reserve soldier was stabbed to death by a West Bank Palestinian on Sept. 24. On Oct. 6, four Palestinian terrorists and an agent of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal secret service, were killed in a Gaza Strip shootout following a car chase.
A 25-year-old Israeli was fatally shot by a Palestinian gunman in Jerusalem’s Old City last Saturday. On Sunday, some 2,000 Moslems hurled rocks and bottles in a two-hour riot on the Temple Mount, protesting a visit there by members of the Temple Mount Faithful, a small group of Orthodox Jews who demand that the site be cleared of its Moslem shrines and the Temple rebuilt.
Police fired tear gas. Twenty-five demonstrators were wounded and 12 were arrested.
The ongoing strife has triggered a debate in Israel over security policy in the administered territories. Reserve Maj. Gen. Shlomo Gazit, former chief of military intelligence and former coordinator of activities in the territories, warned that a “strong arm” policy that is not consistent with political and moral considerations is counterproductive, Davar reported Tuesday. Gazit said he has discerned two important changes recently: the increased boldness of Arab demonstrators and their choice of more “legitimate” targets–soldiers and men in general rather than women and children. Gazit said that imposing the death penalty for terrorist offenses, as suggested by Premier Yitzhak Shamir and many other Israelis in and out of public life, would only encourage extortion in the from of threats on the lives of Israeli soldiers held by terrorist groups in Lebanon.
According to Davar, Gazit also objects strenuously to the diversion of excessive military resources to fight terrorism. “The most important thing is to view terrorism in its proper perspective, even in the intelligence realm,” he was quoted as saying.
Gazit maintained “It is possible to do more, but then it would be at the expense of resources that you do not have enough of for other, more important things that require good, precise intelligence.”
The recent disturbances in the territories do not reflect any real change in the situation but are rather a seasonal phenomenon, he said.