JERUSALEM (Apr. 16)
Violence continued in the administered territories during the weekend, despite strong indications that Palestinians are warming to the idea of Palestinian elections in the territories.
Four people died during the weekend in clashes with the security forces, among them a 10-year-old child from the village of Samua, in the Hebron region. The boy, identified as Mohammed Suleiman Rubei, died Sunday in a local hospital of severe injuries. But the exact circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.
As far as the security forces were concerned, though, the weekend could have turned out much worse.
There were no disturbances during noon prayer services Friday at the Al-Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount, thanks to security precautions. In a giant show of force, some 3,000 police officers were deployed to maintain order on the site, constituting almost half the number of worshipers.
Only 7,000 Arabs came to pray, compared to the 20,000 who showed up a week earlier, on a Friday that ended in unprecedented violence.
Most of the worshipers seemed to have been deterred by roadblocks set up to ban Palestinians from the territories, by frequent police checkups and by a new requirement to deposit their identity cards upon entrance to the holy site.
Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev promised that the strict security measures would continue for the next several Fridays.
The army took even stricter security measures on Sunday, the first anniversary of the death of Khalil al-Wazir, better known as Abu Jihad, the second-highest-ranking leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was assassinated at his home outside of Tunis by a hit squad believed to be Israeli.
NAHALIN INQUIRY CONTINUES
Some 700,000 residents of the territories were put under curfew as a preventive measure to prevent outbursts of violence. The curfew included the entire Gaza Strip.
Day laborers from the territories were not allowed to enter Israel proper. Large military forces were deployed in the territories. The strict measures were expected to continue at least until after the Passover seder Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the army continued its investigation of the bloody raid into the West Bank village of Nahalin last Thursday, in which at least four Arabs were killed and at least 10 wounded. According to preliminary findings, commanders of the border police, which conducted the raid, have admitted the force made several mistakes.
But the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, said Sunday, during a visit to the village, that the main reason for the high number of casualties was the violence of the village residents. He said the army would continue the policy of deploying the border police to replace IDF soldiers.