Israel Defense Force Braces for Independence Proclamation

The Israel Defense Force tightened its grip on the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday, in a determined effort to quash by whatever means necessary any popular reaction to the proclamation of an independent Palestinian state.

Such a declaration is widely expected to emanate from the meeting of the Palestine National Council in Algiers Tuesday. The PNC is the parliamentary body of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Israeli authorities fear it will trigger an escalation of the Palestinian uprising, now in its 12th month.

On Monday, IDF troops demolished houses the army said belonged to 19 members of two terrorist organizations active in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Residents of West Bank towns were forced to wipe anti-Israel graffiti off walls. Palestinian flags were hauled down and leaflets in Arabic were circulated warning the populace to observe law and order.

Influential members of the Palestinian community, including clergymen, were warned against incitement. Loudspeakers used to call the faithful to prayer were removed from the minarets of mosques so they could not be used to call for demonstrations.

But IDF vigilance did not prevent the circulation of leaflets with the words of a Palestinian national anthem, “My Country, My Country.”

Nor did it stop Arabs from stocking up with fireworks to celebrate the expected declaration of independence.

The Israelis are fearful that demonstrations in the territories will spread to restive Arab communities in Israel.

A general strike has been called in the Arab town of Taiba, near Kfar Sava Tuesday, to protest the demolition of 15 homes built there without licenses.

The organizers, a committee of Arab mayors and Knesset members, say the strike has nothing to do with the PNC meeting in Algiers.

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