JERUSALEM (Dec. 15)
Three Palestinian demonstrators were killed and at least seven were wounded Tuesday in a series of clashes with Israel Defense Force troops in the Gaza Strip. Two IDF soldiers were slightly wounded.
A Palestinian shot by the IDF in a skirmish Monday, died of his wounds in a hospital Tuesday evening. His death brought to nine the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with security forces since violence escalated in the Gaza Strip a week ago. Palestinian sources said the number of wounded was much higher than reported by the IDF.
Sporadic incidents continued in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night. The most serious occurred during the day. At one point, troops entered the compound of Shifta Hospital in Gaza, where Palestinian wounded are taken, to confront dozens of stone-throwing demonstrators. According to an eyewitness report in the Jerusalem Post, the soldiers opened fire, killing one demonstrator.
Another Palestinian was fatally shot after he threw a gasoline bomb at soldiers. The circumstances of the third fatality were not immediately known.
Unrest spread from the administered territories to East Jerusalem Tuesday. Police reported tire-burnings and demonstrations in various parts of East Jerusalem, including the Old City. In some cases, demonstrators were dispersed with tear gas. Most Arab shops remained closed.
SHARON MOVE PROTESTED
The disturbances and merchants’ strike in East Jerusalem were apparently organized to protest the move by Herut hard-liner Ariel Sharon into his new home in the Old City’s Moslem quarter.
He held a housewarming and Chanukah party there Tuesday night, attended by Premier Yitzhak Shamir and several dozen other guests, including leading political figures. About 300 armed police stood guard outside.
Sharon, who is minister of commerce and industry and a former defense minister, explained that his new flat, in a building owned by Jews in 1948, was intended to spur a renewal of Jewish residence in the Moslem quarter that began 100 years ago.
But many Israelis consider it a provocation. According to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, it is likely to heighten tensions in the city. Kollek pointedly declined Sharon’s invitation to his Chanukah party. Sharon had told reporters last week that he hoped the mayor would light the first candle.
While the festivities were going on, groups of Israelis demonstrated for and against Sharon at the Damascus Gate, several hundred yards from his new home. Sharon’s supporters were members of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s extremist Kach party. His critics were from the Peace Now movement. No incidents were reported.
But a delegation from the dovish Citizens’ Rights Movement met with Arab neighbors of Sharon and expressed solidarity with them.
The CRM contingent was joined by a member of the Herut Central Committee, Moshe Amirav, who called Sharon’s move a “provocation.” He said he wanted the Herut minister to know that many members of his party do not agree with him. It was disclosed several weeks ago that Amirav had met for talks with certain pro-Palestine Liberation Organization personalities from the West Bank.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office denied Tuesday that Shamir was considering closing the administered territories to the news media covering the disturbances. Shamir’s aide, Avi Pazner, said there are “no operative plans” to close the territories or ban foreign correspondents.
He issued the denial after Israel Radio reported that the idea of a press ban arose at separate meetings Shamir held Tuesday with Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron and a delegation of National Religious Party leaders.
Shamir is acting defense minister in the absence of Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who is in the United States.