JERUSALEM (Aug. 10)
Israel’s civil administration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip announced plans to lay off 350 Arabs working for the administration, in addition to the 400 who have either resigned or been laid off in the past few weeks.
Sources in the civil administration, which serves as a military government in the territories, called it a cost-cutting measure.
But the move also signals that Israel does not intend to step in to fill the vacuum created by King Hussein of Jordan, who last week cut off salaries to about 21,000 full- and part-time workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The civil administration said it is undergoing a deep financial crisis. Officials said that due to the long commercial strike, the civil administration received only half of the tax revenue it obtained last year from the 1.5 million Arabs living in the territories.
Sources said the Israeli layoffs were half of 1,500 originally planned.
In an apparent effort to ease the pain caused by the latest Jordanian measures, the civil administration decided that until Sunday, Arabs wishing to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan need not apply for any special permits.
Bridges into Jordan will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., to allow Palestinians who wish to do so to clear up any business with Jordan.
Officials said traffic at the bridges was up sharply last week, because Palestinians feared Hussein would move to close them.
Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was hospitalized Wednesday after two firebombs were thrown at an army patrol in Ramallah.
The attack came as a general strike paralyzed the territories. The strike was called to mark the end of the eighth month of the Palestinian uprising.