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Israel Launches Punitive Raid on Town That Would Not Pay Taxes

The Israel Defense Force staged a punitive raid on Beit Sahur Wednesday in another attempt to end the tax revolt begun several weeks ago in that predominantly Arab Christian West Bank town.

An undisclosed number of residents were arrested for refusing to pay their taxes.

The raid was launched after local businessmen rejected an ultimatum by the Israeli authorities last Friday. It followed a vow by Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to break Beit Sahur’s disobedience, “even if it requires a month or two of curfew.”

The town of 10,000, three quarters of them Christians, has been under almost constant curfew all week. It has been isolated from nearby Bethlehem and Beit Jala, which together comprise the largest Christian enclave in the administered territories.

The Israeli authorities are determined to punish the townspeople, who are largely middle class and include some affluent families.

“We are going to teach them a lesson,” Rabi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, claiming that the residents “want to turn Beit Sahur into a symbol.”

The Israeli authorities have begun confiscating their merchandise, cars, and personal property, including household furniture and appliances, in lieu of unpaid taxes.

In Tunis, the Palestine Liberation Organization announced Wednesday that a 3 percent levy will by imposed on PLO officials to help the people of Beit Sahur continue their struggle.

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