JERUSALEM (Oct. 20)
Israeli eaders have decided to crack down on the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement in response to its role in perpetrating one of the worst terrorist attacks in Israeli history.
Meeting in a special session for four hours Thursday, as victims of the deadly incident were buried, Israel’s Cabinet resolved to keep the Gaza Strip and West Bank sealed off from Israel proper indefinitely. The move, proposed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who also serves as defense minister, will prevent thousands of Palestinians from reaching jobs in Israel.
The Cabinet also voted to put “additional means” at the disposal of the Israeli security services, “to intensify actions against Hamas and its military wing.” But it did not elaborate on the type of expanded powers it had granted.
The Cabinet met a day after a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a bus in Tel Aviv, killing 21 Israelis and leaving more that 40 wounded.
The government released a list of casualties Thursday. Of the 42 people injured in the blast, 17 were sent home Wednesday night after receiving medical treatment.
At the Cabinet session, the government approved drafting soldiers into the police force and also heard recommendations for cutting off the supply of funds to Hamas.
Police Minister Moshe Shahal later spoke of the need “to deal with the contributions to Hamas that are going on, on an international basis, from Iran, on the one hand, and Arab Americans, on the other.”
During the Cabinet meeting, Rabin heard proposals from his ministers for closing Gaza and the West Bank permanently, an idea he spoke of the night before.
“We need a separation between us and the Palestinians, not just for days, but as a way of life,” the prime minister said in a television interview.
A spokesman for Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat termed the proposal “economic and social war” on Palestinians.
Opposition members called the Cabinet’s decisions “too little, too late.”