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Palestinians, Israelis Testing Limits of Civil Disobedience

Palestinian nationalist circles were apparently caught this week in an internal debate on just how far their civil disobedience campaign should go.

The mass resignation of some 300 police officers seemed to have struck some parts of the Palestinian political community as going too far, leaving the streets to the rule of the underworld.

An influential Palestinian, Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi, the head of the Red Crescent in the Gaza Strip, went as far as to say that the resignation act should be the prerogative of each and every individual. Some 40 police officers in the Hebron region reversed their earlier decision to resign and showed up for duty.

But at the same time, seven Arab officers in the Jerusalem Temple Mount police force announced their resignation Tuesday, saying others would follow suit.

Local inhabitants questioned on the Voice of Israel Radio said they could do without the Arab police and could take care of themselves–further affirmation of rumors that nationalist circles are trying to establish in the territories alternative services to those provided by the government.

Shmuel Goren, coordinator of government affairs in the administered territories. warned Monday that the defense establishment would not allow any alternative frameworks to operate.

The question remained whether the Palestinians would force a showdown, which would probably entail further sanctions by the authorities against the local population.

Some of the measures taken by the authorities in the past few days include reducing the fuel supply to the territories, preventing exports to Jordan, preventing trips to Jordan and visits from the Arab countries to West Bank trouble spots, forcing merchants to open up businesses during strike hours and close them during business hours.

OVERNIGHT CURFEW IN GAZA

In addition, for the first time since 1967, the army on Monday announced a general overnight curfew over the entire Gaza Strip, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. “until further notice.”

The army said the move was aimed at preventing the infiltration of agitators into the area and overnight crime, in the wake of the mass police resignations.

The army enforced the curfew fully. Arab workers who returned from work after 10 p.m. Monday were forced to sleep in their cars in front of military roadblocks.

This measure was seen as yet another attempt by the authorities to regain control over the areas, the scene of Arab unrest since Dec.9.

Though the order came at a period of relative calm in the Gaza Strip, it coincided with the mass resignation of almost the entire Arab police force in the territory and the call by Moslem religious circles for a general strike in the territories on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The strike was to mark the holiday of Israa Wal Miiraj, when the prophet Mohammad, according to tradition, ascended to heaven from Jerusalem. The strike was also seen as an act of protest during Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s visit to Washington.

It was fully observed Tuesday. Stores were closed, public transportation ceased and children did not go to school.

Ramallah was a ghost town Tuesday morning. The streets were virtually empty of traffic or pedestrians. But by noon, youths began burning tires in the streets, a Palestinian flag was raised, and stones were thrown at Israel Defense Force soldiers.

TWO MORE PALESTINIANS KILLED

The rioting spread to the nearby Al-Amari refugee camp and to other major West Bank towns, particularly Kalkilya and Jenin. Two Palestinian Arabs were killed in the violence. One was shot in the head in Deir Jarir village, near Ramallah.

The other was killed in Jarba village, near Jenin, where no disturbances were reported. The army was unable to determine the cause of death.

The IDF imposed a curfew on the town of Kalkilya, following heavy rioting there. Initial reports said a number of people were injured in the clashes with security forces. The rioting triggered angry reprisals from Jewish settlers, who stoned Arab cars on the Kalkilya-Nablus road.

The tires of nine Arab-owned cars, parked in the it #######ina area, in north Jerusalem, were found slashed Tuesday morning. A group calling itself “The Committee For Security On The Roads” claimed responsibility.

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