JERUSALEM (Oct. 18)
At least 30 Palestinians were hospitalized for wounds Thursday after stoning Israel Defense Force troops in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Arab sources put the number of hospitalized at 34. Other reports said 55 Arabs were wounded.
The IDF said only plastic bullets were used in the Rafah confrontation and that more than half the injured were soon released from the hospital and the others sustained only slight wounds.
According to a preliminary investigation ordered by the regional commander, the troops complied with regulations.
The incident occurred in the Shabura quarter of the refugee camp, where the IDF established a lookout post on the roof of a building and topped it with an Israeli flag.
Although all IDF posts fly flags, this one triggered unrest because tempers are still running high over the Temple Mount shootings Oct. 8, when Israeli border police fatally shot 21 Arabs and wounded 150 during a riot.
Palestinian youths charging from all directions Thursday brought the IDF post under a hail of stones. Arab witnesses said the soldiers were forced to retreat.
Reinforcements were summoned and employed various means to disperse the rioters. IDF sources said. The sources did not specify the means, apart from plastic bullets.
No serious disturbances were reported else-where in the administered territories, although military sources cautioned that tensions were still high enough to ignite a new wave of violence.
An Arab general strike that had been in force in the Gaza Strip and large parts of the West Bank during the week began gradually to dissipate.
Meanwhile, the police appointed Judge David Heshin as an investigative judge to examine the events of the Temple Mount incident. His first move was to order police to question the families of the 21 Arabs who died.
The appointment of the judge was considered significant inasmuch as he has power to take legal measures against persons suspected of illegal conduct.
The government’s investigative team in contrast has no legal powers and can only gather information and submit non-binding recommendations.