JERUSALEM (May. 22)
Israeli officials are confronting a worsening security situation in the administered territories, with new instances of firearms being used by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and a Jewish population increasingly bent on reprisals against Arabs.
The Israel Defense Force announced the seizure of a large weapons cache in the Gaza Strip. It included handguns, American-made M-16 rifles, Soviet-made Kalachnikov assault rifles, Israeli-made Uzi submachine guns and Karl Gustav rifles from Sweden.
The arms haul was described as impressive. But it only added to fears that far more deadly arms, many stolen from the IDF, are in the hands of extremists, such as the Moslem fundamentalist Hamas movement, which was the target of mass arrests over the past few days.
Israeli security forces came under fire Monday in Bethlehem and near Moshav Nevatim in the Negev.
There were no casualties. But the incidents were ominous in the wake of last Thursday’s gun battle near Beit Ulla village in the West Bank, which left one soldier dead and several seriously wounded.
Unidentified gunmen fired three pistol shots at a police van near Bethlehem’s Manger Square. One hit the vehicle. Four suspects were arrested.
In Nevatim, less than eight miles south of Beersheba, an unknown assailant, driving a truck with Israeli license plates, directed automatic weapon fire at three IDF soldiers waiting at a crossroad to hitch a ride.
The soldiers, unarmed, took refuge in a nearby field. The assailant fled.
ARAB STONED TO DEATH BY JEWS
Jewish violence against Arabs is also escalating.
An Arab driver from the West Bank vilage of Dura, near Hebron, was stoned to death Monday by Jews near Ashkelon, on the Israeli coastal road. The victim was not immediately identified.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Jews from the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim rampaged through the nearby Arab town of Eizariya on two consecutive nights, beginning Sunday.
They were retaliating for the stoning of a Jewish car Sunday night, which sent it downhill out of control, injuring a family of four.
Police rushed to the scene and had to use tear gas to disperse the raging settlers.
President Chaim Herzog urged Jews on Monday to show restraint and not emulate the behavior of Arab extremists.