A Trusted Arab Military Employee Turns out to Be Intifada Activist

A trusted Arab employee at a military garage in the Gaza Strip was exposed as an intifada activist and arrested last week, Ma’ariv reported Wednesday.

The newspaper identified the man as Naji Mohammad al-Rajab, who for many years was foreman of the garage where Israel Defense Force vehicles are repaired in Rafah.

Soldiers felt secure talking to him, Ma’ariv said. It quoted one as saying “We used to say such things as, ‘Naji, why don’t you repair this command car first, we need it for an operation in a refugee camp.’”

But Naji, who had security clearances from IDF top brass, turned out to be a senior member of a “popular committee,” the cells that direct and supervise the Palestinian uprising, Ma’ariv said.

His case highlights the risks Israel takes employing Arab workers, Ma’ariv observed. IDF employs dozens of Arabs at its Gaza Strip installations, all of whom passed security checks.

In another development Wednesday, the IDF announced that from now on, soldiers will be allowed to fire live ammunition at masked men who lead disturbances or attack Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel.

The live ammo can be fired even if the masked persons are unarmed or are carrying “cold weapons” such as stones, knives or axes, the IDF said.

Until now, soldiers had standing orders to fire only plastic bullets in such circumstances.

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