JERUSALEM (Nov. 23)
The Israel Defense Force appears to be mounting a major effort to break the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before its one-year anniversary on Dec. 9.
The intention apparently is to convince the Palestinians they are paying too high a price in blood, with nothing to show for it. The IDF says the strategy is working.
A 13-year-old Arab youngster, Ammar Khalail, died Wednesday of wounds sustained Saturday in a violent clash with IDF soldiers in Beita village, near Nablus.
Although an escalation of disturbances connected with Yasir Arafat’s Nov. 15 proclamation of an independent Palestinian state seems increasingly unlikely, the IDF is continuing to impose selective curfews. They are aimed at “forestalling disturbances,” the military says.
The IDF also has been conducting almost daily pre-emptive raids on Arab villages, such as the one on Beita. The official justification is to “deflate nationalist elements” who might feel like celebrating their “independence,” even if peacefully.
Although there was a general strike in the territories again Wednesday, it was not accompanied by violence.
Security sources said the large show of force by the IDF during the first half of the month prompted the Arabs to re-evaluate the situation in view of their collective suffering.
Arab sources were said to agree. A grocer in Nablus, Ahmad Masri, was quoted as saying, “OK, so they declared a Palestinian state. How does it change our lives?”
Apparently there have been excesses by IDF troops. A paratroop company comander was sentenced to two weeks in jail after he was found responsible for reprisals Sunday night by several soldiers against Arabs in the Kalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem.
The soldiers’ bus was stoned by local youths as it passed the camp. The senior officer, a second lieutenant, led his men on a chase of the rock-throwers. They entered the camp and smashed the windshields of several of the residents’ cars.