JERUSALEM (Jan. 12)
Another Palestinian was killed and five were wounded in clashes with the Israel Defense Force in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
The latest fatality brought to 35 the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since rioting broke out last Dec. 9, according to official figures. Palestinian sources place the death toll much higher.
The incident occurred at a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Military sources said an IDF patrol was attacked by a group of Arabs with knives. One soldier was stabbed and slightly wounded.
The patrol opened fire after the Arabs failed to obey orders to disperse. Three Arabs were wounded. The man killed was reportedly the one who stabbed the soldier.
Two more Palestinians were wounded in a clash at the Jebaliya refugee camp near Gaza. The incident occurred shortly after IDF officers refused entry into the camp to United Nations Undersecretary General Marrack Goulding, who is on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the administered territories.
Goulding also was turned away from the Shati refugee camp on the Gaza coast Both camps are under curfew and have been declared “closed military areas.”
Goulding tried to visit a third refugee camp, but after learning that violent demonstrations were occurring, he ordered his U.N. motorcade to turn back.
MEETS WITH RABIN
The U.N. official met Tuesday afternoon with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to discuss the situation in the territories. Rabin explained Israel’s actions to restore order in the areas.
Goulding reportedly expressed the United Nations’ concern over events in the territories. It was not known whether he filed an official complaint.
In New York, a U.N. spokesman announced Tuesday that Goulding visited Gaza, but was denied entry to two United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) camps in the Gaza Strip that were under curfews. The spokesman said Goulding also met with “leading Palestinian personalities” and with Defense Minister Rabin.
Apart from the clashes at the refugee camps, the Gaza Strip and West Bank were relatively quiet Tuesday. The streets in Gaza were open to traffic. No rock-throwing incidents were reported.
A violent demonstration in Tulkarm, in the West Bank, ended after a curfew was imposed on part of the town.
But a commercial strike was in force in most West Bank towns and in East Jerusalem on Tuesday. Haaretz reported that Arab businessmen are complaining that the extent and duration of the strikes are threatening many merchants with bankruptcy and seriously harming the economy of the region.
Haaretz said it obtained its information in telephone interviews with prominent Arab business leaders and merchants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said that during the past five weeks, businesses in the territories were shut down 70 to 90 percent of the time. They have called the situation “catastrophic,” the newspaper reported.
PERES URGES PEACE TALKS
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared Tuesday that the political momentum for peace talks must continue, despite the most serious disorders in the territories in 20 years.
Speaking to reporters after briefing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Peres said the problems in the territories cannot be solved by military means alone.
He expressed “deep concern” over the damage done to Israel’s image by media coverage of the disturbances. “For two years we succeeded in balancing the attitude of the world toward us, but now the situation is changing,” the foreign minister said. He was referring to the two years since the IDF withdrew the bulk of its troops from Lebanon.
Peres also said he was convinced that the “immediate partner” for peace talks “is a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation.”
Rabin has expressed the opinion that once order is restored to the territories, Israel will have to deal with an entirely new Palestinian leadership.