TEL AVIV (Dec. 28)
Attorney General Yosef Harish will re-examine the use of plastic bullets to quell disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in view of the sharp increase in Palestinian fatalities since they were introduced, Davar reported Wednesday.
Harish informed the defense establishment this week of his intentions, the Israeli newspaper said.
Plastic bullets were approved to prevent the loss of life. The orders governing their use were issued to Israel Defense Force officers and ranks only after they were examined and approved by Harish, Davar recalled.
During last July, before the bullets were introduced, seven people were wounded in the Gaza Strip. In August, when their use began, seven were killed and 90 wounded in the region.
This month alone, 22 Palestinians have been killed and 310 wounded by plastic bullets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that seven persons were killed and 85 wounded in the Gaza Strip last month and that seven were killed and 224 wounded in the West Bank.
Rabin told the committee that one Israel Defense Force soldier was killed in the territories last month and 24 wounded.
In addition, one Jewish settler was killed and 27 were injured, most of them slightly.
Rabin said that more than 85 percent of the incidents in the territories last month involved rock-throwing. He said 80 percent of the rock-throwers were children under the age of 14.
According to Rabin, the Palestinian population is sharply divided over whether to continue the intifada, as the uprising is called.
He said the Communists support a cessation, believing the intifada has achieved its goals. Pro-Syrian and religious factions want the uprising intensified.
The diplomatic correspondent of Haaretz, Akiva Eldar, reported Wednesday that some prominent figures in the West Bank recently expressed willingness for a “cease-fire.”
In return, they want Israel to stop arresting and deporting Palestinian leaders and to make other gestures, such as the release of some administrative detainees, Eldar said.
According to the writer, the local figures made those proposals in contacts with American diplomats.
They said that after a cease-fire they would cooperate with an Israeli decision to hold municipal elections in the West Bank, with the tacit understanding that the elected mayors would serve as spokespersons for the Palestinians in political negotiations with Israel.