Arab-jewish Tensions Seethe in Hebron and Ramallah Areas

Tension in the territories shifted to Hebron on Monday, after a bus carrying Jewish passengers came under attack by Palestinian rock-throwers there.

A curfew was imposed on downtown Hebron, after the bus, carrying passengers from Petach Tikva, was attacked opposite the local vegetable market. The incident occurred just a few yards away from the Avraham Avinu compound, site of the renewed Jewish settlement in the heavily Arab city.

A number of passengers got off the bus and vandalized local vehicles in response to the attack. When the army rushed in to intervene, a number of passengers clashed with the soldiers. Two were detained, as were a number of Arabs. No one was reported hurt.

The incident in Hebron was the latest in a series of events that have raised the level of tension between Jews and Arabs living in the West Bank.

Police on Monday questioned two residents of the Jewish settlement of Nilli, northwest of Ramallah, who were suspected of having rioted in the neighboring Arab village of Kharbata on Saturday night.

The two allegedly set fire to two Arab shops and fired their guns in the direction of houses in the village, apparently in reaction to the stoning of Jewish cars in the vicinity of the village earlier Saturday.

Army officers who witnessed the riot wrote down the license plate numbers of the cars that were spotted on the scene. Police initially said 15 residents of the settlement were suspected of perpetrating the riot, but only two were brought Monday to the Ramallah police station for questioning.

U.S. CRITICIZES UPSURGE

On Sunday, several hundred members of the Temple Mount Faithful attempted to penetrate the mount, which is the third holiest site to Moslems.

Police turned the Jewish group away, allowing only small numbers inside, for fear that they would upset the precarious calm that pervaded the area since Moslem worshipers gathered there peacefully for noon prayers on Friday.

Knesset members Geula Cohen of Tehiya and Michael Eitan of Likud managed to enter the site carrying Israeli flags. Cohen complained that while tourists were free to visit the site, Israelis were limited.

Riots continued in the territories throughout the weekend. A 7-year-old boy was injured when soldiers fired rubber bullets during a clash in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip.

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train was stoned Monday, close to Beitar, south of Jerusalem. There were neither casualties nor damage.

In Washington, the State Department expressed “deep concern” Monday over the increased violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The increasing tension in the territories runs directly counter to the cause of peace,” said department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler.

The United States “strongly urges all sides to exercise restraint,” and is “determined to work with all parties to break out of the current confrontation and to replace violence with political dialogue and accommodation,” she added.

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