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Streets of Bethlehem Are Quiet As Arab Underground Orders Strike

For years, the busy streets of commercial Bethlehem have been a lively example that when money talks, Jews and Arabs forget their differences and listen.

But on Monday, a day after the murder of Israel Defense Force Sgt. Moshe Katz, at a spot where hundreds of Israelis normally pass daily, the city seemed deserted.

All shops were closed except bakeries, the only ones permitted to operate by orders of the underground command of the Arab “uprising.” The streets were empty of people. It was difficult to tell whether there was a total strike or whether the city was under curfew.

The conflicting orders by Arab nationalist circles and the Israeli authorities regarding the opening hours of shops are enough to make any sensible person stay at home indefinitely.

The Palestine Liberation Organization issued orders for shops to open between 9 a.m. and noon. After that, a general strike was to go into effect.

The authorities gave reverse orders. Confusion reigned Monday when the clandestine command of the Arab uprising distributed leaflet No. 11, which called for a general strike to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the IDF operation against PLO terrorists in Karame, across the river in Jordan.

One perplexed merchant tried to open his shop Monday morning, opposite the scene of Sunday’s murder, only to have its doors welded shut a few minutes later by IDF soldiers.

Leaflets distributed Monday called on the population to increase violent attacks against soldiers and Israeli civilians. They also called for continued sanctions against the civil administration and for complete commercial strikes.

Military sources said Monday the attempt of the PLO to turn the Karame anniversary into a day of mass violence failed.

But in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, a 19-year-old youth was killed Monday morning. A curfew was imposed on the town.

Jerusalem police, meanwhile, are investigating an attempt Sunday night on the life of an editor of a pro-PLO newspaper. Jacques Hazmo, editor of Al-Biader A-Siassi, was not hurt when some 20 shots were fired at his home in the A-Ram neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. An attempt also was made to burn his car.

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