TEL AVIV (Mar. 30)
Israeli authorities took tough measures today to prevent disorders as much of the country’s Arab population observed the fourth anniversary of “Land Day” in an atmosphere of mounting tension over West Bank settlements and the government’s recent decision to establish Jewish religious institutions in Hebron. That town and several others on the West Bank were gripped by sympathy strikes today and East Jerusalem was also shut down.
“Land Day” is a day of protest and mourning by Israeli Arabs to mark the clashes of March 30, 1976, between local villagers and Israeli security forces. Six Arabs were killed after demonstrations protesting the government’s seizure of Arab lands in the Galilee degenerated into riots.
Rallies were held today in Taibeh, Arabeh and Kafr-Konna – the villages where the fatalities occurred four years ago — and in Laggiyeh, near a Bedouin encampment in the Negev. In Taibeh, near Netonya, the rally drew-3000 protestors, among them several Knesset members of the Communist and Sheli factions. While the local Arabs were permitted to attend the gatherings, the villages were cordoned off by roadblocks to prevent outsiders from entering. Security forces were under strict orders to bar West Bank political figures from the Arab areas of Israel.
As of this evening no series disturbances were reported. There were scattered incidents of tire-bumming by youngsters who were quickly dispersed by police. But Hebron, Ramallah and East Jerusalem were paralyzed by general strikes today. In other towns the strikes were only partially effective and in Jenin, in the Samaria region, the situation was normal.
UNAUTHORIZED MEETING HALTED
Israeli authorities blame West Bank political leaders and pro-Palestine Liberation Organization elements for trying to incite disturbances. The tension was first felt last Friday when a group of East Jerusalem, Arab and Mayor Fahed Kawasme me of Hebron held an unauthorized meeting in the courtyard of an East Jerusalem house calling for protests against the Hebron plan.
Crowds listening to nationalistic and pro-PLO speeches by political and religious leaders emerged shouting slogans such as “Death to Israel and the Sodat regime.” Palestinian flogs were hoisted and pro-PLO posters were plastered on walls.
Police moved in to prevent a riot. Kawasme and other-West Bankers were ousted from the area after their identification was checked. But 32 other Arabs were detained for questioning and later released. The incident was the first in which Israeli police broke up a political meeting. The organizers threatened to inform the world of what they considered a forcible denial of rights.
An anti-Israel.rally was held in Hebron Friday. The local Imam, Sheikh el-Tamimi was banned by the authorities from delivering his weekly sermon at the mosque. The mayors of other West Bank towns were prevented from entering Hebron. Tamimi had delivered a bitterly anti-Israeli speech last week, calling for civil disobedience and a boycott of Jews by Hebron residents.