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As Violence Flares in Gaza, Arabs Plan Civil Disobedience Campaign

The Gaza Strip, quiet for the past few days, erupted with new violence Tuesday, resulting in the death of a Palestinian in Khan Yunis, where Israeli soldiers battled stone-throwing youths.

It was the second Palestinian fatality since Sunday at the hands of Israeli security forces, and passions seethed throughout the territories.

In addition, Israel is faced with an Arab civil disobedience campaign being organized by two prominent Palestinians in East Jerusalem. As a harbinger of this latest move, groups of Arab women all over the West Bank demonstrated Tuesday against the “suppressive measures” by the Israelis.

The Gaza Strip, where serious rioting broke out last Dec. 9 and continued unabated for nearly three weeks, was quiet Tuesday morning. But later in the day, IDF soldiers were attacked with rocks in Khan Yunis, in the southern end of the territory.

One soldier was struck in the face. The officer in charge opened fire to rescue his men who were surrounded. One of the stone-throwers was killed and seven were wounded.

News of the clash spread swiftly over the territory. Four IDF soldiers were slightly injured by rocks in Gaza. A resident of Gaza’s Nasser neighborhood was wounded in an encounter with other soldiers.

South of Gaza, 10 Arab youths barricaded themselves in a mosque and stoned Israeli forces.

REGRET EXPRESSED

Military sources expressed regret over the loss of a life in Khan Yunis, but said that according to an initial investigation, the soldier who fired the fatal shot acted in accordance with regulations.

That was not the case Sunday, when a 25-year-old Palestinian woman, Haniye El-Zarawneh, was shot to death while hanging laundry on the roof of her home in the Al-Ram neighborhood, north of Jerusalem.

The soldier in that case, who was firing into the air as he chased stone-throwers into the courtyard of the Zarawneh family home, was suspended from duty along with his commanding officer for acting contrary to regulations.

The two deaths, less than 48 hours apart, may touch off a new round of violent disturbances in the territories, Israelis fear.

IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that each additional person killed in the territories ignites further tension. He said the security forces were under strict orders to exercise maximum restraint.

But the prospects of a civil disobedience campaign in the West Bank and Gaza Strip may in some ways be a greater ordeal for Israeli forces than violent confrontations.

The first reaction in official quarters was that the campaign would “simply not work,” although the mere announcement of it was troubling.

SENIORA BEHIND INITIATIVE

The initiative was taken by Hanna Seniora, the widely respected editor of the East Jerusalem Arabic daily Al Fajr, and Mubarak Awad, founder and head of the Center for the Study of Non-Violence in East Jerusalem.

Awad, a Jerusalem-born American citizen, was recently ordered deported from Israel. But strong pressure from Washington prevailed upon the Israeli authorities not to implement the order.

Seniora told reporters Tuesday that the civil disobedience campaign could include refusal to pay taxes and boycotts of Israeli products and jobs in Israel. He said it could be described as a non-violent “civil rebellion . . . to send a message that the occupation cannot continue for very much longer.”

Other possible participants in the campaign include Bir Zeit University Professor Sari Nusseibeh; the deposed mayor of Hebron, Mustafa Abdul Nabi Ntashe; and lawyer Jonathan Kuttab. Seniora said he and other public figures would hold a news conference Thursday to announce the initiative.

Meanwhile, Premier Yitzhak Shamir responded Tuesday to a cable from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak protesting Israel’s behavior in the territories. Shamir blamed the unrest on terrorist organizations and charged that the Arab countries were perpetuating the poor conditions in the refugee camps deliberately.

He handed his message to the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Mohammad Bassiouny. The envoy, emerging from his meeting with Shamir, told reporters “We are against killing, because there are a lot of ways to keep security, but not by the use of live bullets.”

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