JERUSALEM (Aug. 29)
For the second time in less than a week, Palestinians brutally murdered a fellow Arab suspected of having collaborated with the Israeli authorities.
The liquidation of collaborators is being viewed here as revenge for the latest crackdown on the 8-month-old uprising. It is also being seen as a response to Israel’s attempt to cripple the grass-roots influence of the outlawed “popular committees,” set up to try to supplant Israeli authority in the territories.
The murders may also mean a new phase in the uprising: a return to the Arab vs. Arab terrorism that characterized the Arab revolts of 1936 to 1939.
The body of Samith Yusuf a-Dababse, 22, was found Sunday morning hand-cuffed to an electricity poll in downtown Hebron. He apparently had been beaten to death.
Dababse was a resident of the nearby town of Yatta. Last Thursday, another Yatta resident, Saadi Hazazeh, 35, was murdered by a group of people with ax blows, after they broke into his home early in the morning.
On Saturday, a gasoline bomb was thrown at the house of the local mayor and the town council building. And on Monday, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the vehicle of an Arab identified as a collaborator in another village in the hills outside Hebron. He was not hurt.
The attacks appear to signal that a circle is closing. The popular committees were erected with the declared purpose of replacing services provided by the Israeli authorities. They were to be administered through Palestinian bodies, such as the local municipalities.
Now that the authorities have outlawed the committees, their organizers are apparently seeking punishment of the collaborators who, they say, enabled the crackdown on the committees.
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In the past, the security forces have been frustrated in their attempts to protect those who cooperate with Israel. At the early stages of the uprising, a person identified as an agent of the authorities was lynched at the village of Kabatiya. Following that attack, the security forces were criticized for having “deserted” Arabs who have opposed the uprising.
But despite precautions, there seems to be no way to prevent Palestinians from attacking each other.
With violence spreading within the Palestinian community, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s statement to the Knesset on Monday that the territories may be on the verge of quieting down seemed premature to observers.
On Sunday, Rabin briefed the Cabinet on the situation and recited the latest statistics on more than eight months of violence: 210 Palestinians dead and 5,600 wounded in clashes with the army.