JERUSALEM (Nov. 16)
Despite government calls for moderation and warnings that the law would be strictly enforced for Israelis and Palestinians alike, disturbances erupted in several locations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a single day of violence that left many here skeptical about the prospects for peace.
In Gaza on Tuesday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed in the chest and his assailant, a young Palestinian, was shot dead by a witness to the incident.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, soldiers shot dead a young Palestinian and wounded another after being pelted with stones from a school.
And the same day in Hebron, Israeli settlers went on a rampage in the center of town, overturning stalls, smashing windows and jostling Palestinians.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was briefing Arab reporters on Tuesday at the end of his visit to Washington, said that Israeli security forces had largely failed at stopping the violence committed by terrorists and Israeli settlers.
“I can’t say that we succeeded to prevent assassinations by extreme Palestinian terror groups of Israelis, and I cannot say that we have succeeded always to control reaction by the settlers to these assassinations,” he said.
The violence provoked a warning from a senior Israeli government minister, who said that the government would act vigorously to protect the lives and property of Jews and Arabs in the territories and to impose the discipline of the law on settlers who defied the authorities.
The stabbing incident took place near the Erez checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip.
CIVILIAN BYSTANDER KILLS ASSAILANT
Israeli policeman Arye Ben-Shitreet was set upon by a young Palestinian and received several wounds to his chest and neck.
The attacker tried to escape, but a civilian bystander shot and killed him.
The assailant carried in his pocket a statement saying he was a member of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement, which is opposed to the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization self-rule accord.
Security sources said they regarded the attempted killing as a suicide-murder attempt.
Ben-Shitreet was hospitalized in Beersheba and was in stable condition.
In Ramallah, Israeli troops were pelted by stones thrown from a local Palestinian school. After repeated warnings failed to disperse the Palestinian youths, the soldiers opened fire, killing a student and wounding at least one other.
Farther to the south, in Hebron, the Israel Defense Force removed a curfew imposed on the town Monday after a Jewish settler from nearby Kiryat Arba was attacked by two ax-wielding terrorists.
The settler, Avraham Zarbiv, a father of 10, managed to shoot and kill one of the assailants with his pistol; the other escaped, taking the pistol.
The Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical faction opposed to the peace process, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following the removal of the curfew on Tuesday, Jewish settlers from Hebron and Kiryat Arba took to the streets in large numbers and engaged in a sustained riot.
The settlers attacked Arab businesses, broke windows and destroyed cars with Arab license plates.
The settlers’ protests drew a harsh response from Justice Minister David Libai, who issued a stern warning to “those who would take the law into their own hands.”
He said that while protests were valid in a democracy, recent actions had crossed the “red line that no government can allow to be crossed.”
He pledged that the government would take vigorous action against the settlers’ violent protests.
Settlers’ groups have recently issued a promise that they will continue to employ violence as a means for getting the government to take their demands for security seriously.