JERUSALEM (Apr. 26)
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering sharply criticized Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday. saying that the Israel Defense Force’s methods to suppress the Palestinian uprising there are “outside the standards of human rights which we and Israel share and advocate together.”
Speaking at the Hebrew University here, the envoy decried deportations, administrative detentions, demolition of homes and other forms of collective punishment, which, he said, would not solve the problems in the areas.
His comments came as Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced that for the third consecutive day there had been no fatalities reported from the territories.
It is the quietiest period in a long time. the defense minister said in remarks to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The IDF’s mission is to restore calm, but this does not mean it can guarantee that “not one stone or Molotov cocktail will be thrown,”he said.
Rabin informed the committee that the nearly five-month-old uprising has cost the IDF about $300 million. The army can absorb $100 million, but the rest will have to come from the Treasury. he said.
The defense minister said the IDF is not waging a war against terrorism in the administered territories, but is engaged in a confrontation with masses of people. “This is a war of squad, platoon and company commanders, not colonels and generals,” Rabin said.
Meanwhile. Jerusalem police continued their war of wills with the underground Palestinian leadership in which East Jerusalem merchants are caught in the middle.
The police, determined to break the ongoing commercial strike, have ordered shopkeepers to stay open during normal business hours or to shut down altogether.
The merchants instead have been following instructions from the underground leadership to stay open three hours a day. beginning at 2 p.m. to allow customers time to stock up with essentials.
Fourteen shopkeepers were arrested Monday for failure to obey police orders. Seven were released Tuesday on the equivalent of $650 bail, and seven remain in custody. Trials are scheduled to be held Thursday.