JERUSALEM (Jan. 25)
Palestinians observed a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, the first held to protest the mass influx of immigrants, mainly from the Soviet Union, into Israel.
This time, the shutdown was called by the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas and was totally effective.
Hamas accused the Soviet Union of “assisting Zionism” by allowing the mass departure of Jews.
The issue has aroused fear throughout the Palestinian population that they may be dispossessed.
Some two dozen of their secular and religious leaders signed a petition to the Western countries this week appealing to them to make sure Israel will not settle its new immigrants in the administered territories.
The day was without incident, except for the murder of another Arab suspected of collaborating with the Israeli authorities.
Such homicides’ have become almost routine in the territories. The latest victim was identified as Mohammad Ibrahim, 35. His body was found Thursday in Zbeide village near Jenin.
Meanwhile, a ranking Israel Defense Force officer offered an unusual perspective on the intifada in a talk to high-school students in Sderot on Thursday.
Maj. Gen. Natan Vilnai, commander of the southern sector, observed that for the first time since the state was founded in 1948, Israelis and Palestinians arc facing each other.
He said that while the IDF controls the situation in the territories, the Palestinian uprising will not be quickly or easily suppressed.
There are no shortcuts, he stressed. The immediate goal of the army is “to reduce the level of violence to the minimum.”
Vilnai added that this can be done by exercising force “wisely and minimally.”