JERUSALEM (Oct. 30)
Another spate Arab violence has given Israelis the uncomfortable feeling that they are not safe in their own backyards.
It has also reinforced the view that Defense Minister Moshe Arens’ decision Sunday to reopen the administered territories was premature.
Arabs attacked or tried to attack Jews in three widely separated incidents Tuesday and were killed or captured for their efforts.
The incidents, which left two Arabs dead and caused injury to two Arabs and two Israelis, occurred barely two days after Arens lifted the ban that had kept Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip out of Israel proper for the previous four days.
The ban had been put into effect following the brutal slaying of three Israelis in Jerusalem last week and subsequent stabbing incidents and reprisals in various parts of the country that have left more then a dozen injured.
But the defense authorities feared that keeping the Palestinians bottled up indefinitely and deprived of their daily jobs in Israel would create an even more explosive situation.
Though the plan was lifted, more stringent measures have been taken to screen out criminal elements and potential troublemakers.
That, however, has done little to reassure Israeli parents, who are deeply concerned about the safety of their children going to and from school or playing in the streets.
‘TRIGGER OPTION’ BECOMING POPULAR
Mutual suspicion between the Jewish and Arab communities is stronger than ever. Israelis who employ Arabs now constantly look over their shoulders, worried about being attacked with a hammer or knife.
They know the Islamic fundamentalist movement has called for the killing of Jews, making it almost a religious act to avenge the fatal shooting of 18 Arabs by Israeli police in the Oct. 8 riots on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Israelis moreover could hardly have been encouraged by Defense Minister Arens’ sober warning Tuesday that the wave of violence “has not yet passed.”
Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee quoted him as saying. “We must be ready for a period that will not be easy, in which efforts will be made to harm civilians, both from outside Israel and also from inside Israeli territory.”
Most Israelis seem to realize that security measures, however tough, will not root out random terror as long as there is no political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But here opinion is sharply divided.
The right wing has begun arguing more strenuously for the “transfer” option, meaning the removal of the Palestinian population from the administered territories, presumably to a neighboring country, such as Jordan or Lebanon.
The left insists there is no choice but for Israel to withdraw from the territories.
There is another alternative: the “trigger option.”
Cabinet ministers went out of their way this week to encourage Israelis to shoot to kill if they think their lives are in danger. Police Minister Ronni Milo was insistent on that point.
One of the three Jews murdered in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood Oct. 21 was police trainee Shalom Charlie Shloush, who, when attacked by a blade-wielding young Arab, followed police procedure by firing a warning shot into the air, then aimed at his assailants legs — and lost his life.
SWIFT RESPONSE TO LATEST ATTACKS
Israelis have quickly learned that going by the book could be suicidal.
So when an 18-year-old Palestinian stabbed the Israeli driver of an oil tank truck in Nablus on Tuesday morning, he was instantly shot to death by the driver’s bodyguard.
Israelis were also quick to respond when a Palestinian stabbed and slightly injured a policeman in the East Jerusalem central bus station. The assailant was promptly caught. He was identified as Nidal Gidal, 16, of the West Bank village of Kibya.
In the religious township of Bnei Brak, north of Tel Aviv, one Arab was killed and two injured early Tuesday morning when a bomb they were assembling exploded prematurely.
The three Arabs were employed at a vegetable stall in the heart of town, where they spent the night.
According to police, they were preparing a bomb to be concealed in a vegetable crate, timed to go off when the market was crowded with shoppers.
In light of the tense situation, security forces announced that as many as 20,000 of the 120,000 Palestinian day laborers from the territories will permanently be denied entry to Israel.
They will be screened out because of criminal records, records of security offenses or hostile acts.