JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Israeli security officials are grimly reassessing their optimistic conclusion earlier this month that the Palestinian uprising was on the wane.
The violence continued unabated this week. Authorities in the West Bank were forced to cancel plans to resume 11th and 12th grade classes at local high schools, which have been closed since January for security reasons.
The lower grades were reopened in stages recently, so far with relatively few problems. But officials admit the time is not ripe for additional normalization, because the prevailing conditions seem to be violent.
The Israel Defense Force, which for 20 months has been unable to quell the so-called intifada, is resorting again to widespread dragnets and mass arrests.
Dozens of West Bank residents were detained Wednesday, as security forces searched for troublemakers in the area.
The operation began early Wednesday morning and continued late into the evening. The IDF said the action would “reduce the level of violence in the territories.”
Soldiers arrested dozens of residents of Anabta village, near the Tulkarm-Nablus road. It is the scene of frequent rock attacks on military vehicles and the cars of Jewish settlers.
The IDF said it seized several ringleaders long on the wanted list.
The situation is complicated by several unsolved killings.
One, on which the United States is pressing Israel for information, involves a 15-year-old American-born Palestinian youth, Amjad Jibril a-Tawil, who was a U.S. citizen. His battered body was found by a shepherd in the industrial zone between Ramallah and the adjacent town of El-Bireh.
The Tawil family is prominent in Ramallah. The youth’s mother lives in El-Bireh. His father, Hussein Tawil, flew in from Miami, where he has lived for 16 years.
SLAIN YOUTH WASN’T IN ARMY CUSTODY
The family blames the IDF for Amjad’s death. They said he was shot in the heart, his head was crushed and he bore cigarette burns.
The army insists the youth was never in its custody. An intense inquiry is being conducted with the assistance of the police.
The family, meanwhile, got an order from Israel’s High Court of Justice allowing burial to be postponed.
A private pathologist, Dr. Derek Pounder of Scotland, was engaged to perform a second autopsy. He submitted his findings to the family Wednesday evening. The results were not immediately disclosed.
News of his death and charges that he was murdered by Israelis touched off rioting in Ramallah. A curfew was clamped on part of the town, and the Tawil home was put out of bounds. No one, including the dead boy’s father, was allowed to enter.
In Washington, the State Department demanded Tuesday that Israel give unrestricted access to American consular officers. By Wednesday, officials said that problem had been resolved.
Adding to the tension this week were the deaths of two other Palestinian teen-agers, whose families have complained to the authorities.
One of the victims is Nasser Shaheen Abu Katrina, who was shot to death Tuesday morning in the El-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah.
A 15-year-old girl from the Askar refugee camp, near Nablus, died in a Ramallah hospital Tuesday from head wounds sustained a week ago during a clash with IDF soldiers.
A 20-year-old girl was shot to death Tuesday in the Deir el-Balah marketplace in the Gaza Strip.
FAKE ID CARDS ISSUED
Residents in the Gaza Strip have been boycotting their jobs in Israel since Sunday, on orders from the unified command of the Palestinian uprising.
The issue is the new magnetic identity cards, which all Gaza workers must show in order to be admitted to Israel to go to their jobs.
The purpose, the Israeli authorities say, is to screen out people with criminal or security offenses. But the cards have aroused the fury of Gaza residents as few other measures have done.
Intifada activists have confiscated thousands almost as soon as they were issued.
A photo print shop in Ashkelon has been producing forged ID cards to distribute among Gaza workers. The idea is they would hand over the fake cards to intifada activists and use the valid one to get to work.
The idea is said to have originated with Israelis who employ Arabs. When the print shops voluntarily checked with police if it was legal, they were told to stop making the phony cards “until further notice.”
The job boycott is supposed to last a week. The real test of the magnetized cards will start next Sunday, when the boycott ends, Israeli authorities said.