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Israel Takes Tough Steps in Gaza, but Restricts Use of Lethal Force

January 20, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel has resorted to tough measures to prevent a renewal of disturbances in the administered territories. But the use of lethal force has been curtailed.

In the Gaza Strip, civil administration officials assisted by Israel Defense Force officers have cut off electricity, water and telephone service for thousands of Palestinian residents of refugee camps that are under tight curfew, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

IDF officers have been ordered to see that no water reaches residents of the camps, which have been the primary trouble spots in recent weeks.

According to a military source quoted by Haaretz, “The objective was to show the residents who is in charge, as it were, in the Gaza Strip, so that they wouldn’t think they can rule the area. It is clear we are in charge,” the source said, adding that the system has “worked well” since it began several days ago.

In the West Bank, IDF soldiers have received orders to take the offensive against demonstrators and beat them vigorously when they are caught.

Another senior official expressed concern about permitting soldiers to pummel rioters, but said it is the only practical solution that works.

At the same time, the IDF has received explicit instructions limiting the use of live ammunition against demonstrators.

They have been forbidden, for example, to open fire on rioters who hurl gasoline bombs. The previous practice had been to shoot to kill in those circumstances.

Gen. Amram Mitzna, army commander of the central sector, issued orders two days ago that soldiers may use live ammunition only in emergency situations, must aim at the legs of the rioters and may not use expanding bullets, which explode on contact, causing massive injuries.

Soldiers also may fire only with the approval of their unit commander or another senior officer present.

The IDF has been patrolling in larger units in recent days to avoid situations where a single soldier finds himself alone, facing a crowd of demonstrators, and opens fire out of fear. The new orders call for the use of rubber bullets, followed by a charge in force when an IDF unit is surrounded by rioters.


Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who visited Ramallah and surrounding villages in the West Bank on Tuesday, vowed, “We will act with force, with strength, with blows to stop violent demonstrations.”

Although Rabin’s entourage, which included reporters, was pelted with stones at one point, the defense minister stressed that the territory has been quiet.

No disturbances were reported Tuesday. No roads were blocked with burning tires. The IDF has succeeded in overcoming violence and keeping the roads open, the defense minister declared.

The only continuing breach of order is a passive one — the almost total commercial strike by Arab merchants and shopkeepers in East Jerusalem, now in its 10th day.

But ending the strike and getting people back to work is not high on Israel’s order of priorities, Rabin said. “If they do not want to market their products, that is their problem. They should not come weeping about shortages later,” he said.

He acknowledged, however, that there was a need for a political solution to the Palestinian problem and it can be found only at the negotiating table.

But the basic condition for negotiations must be the restoration of order. “I know that various factors in the Arab world and in the territories are trying to continue the unrest. But it won’t help them,” Rabin said. “Through violence, they’ll achieve nothing.”

Premier Yitzhak Shamir spoke in a similar vein Tuesday, addressing high school students in Bnei Brak, the religious township north of Tel Aviv. The Arab states must realize that the current riots in the administered territories are not a sign of Israel’s weakness, he said.


“The riots are continuing because we have shown restraint in the use of arms. The Arabs see our restraint and think it is because of their strength. The IDF must persevere and show these (Arab) youths that if they have the chutzpah (cheek) to attack us, it is not a sign of their strength,” Shamir said.

He added, “People in Israel must understand that this is the reason for the riots. Our only motivation is our desire for peace.”

Rabin, speaking to reporters in Ramallah, referred to the fact-finding visit of United Nations Undersecretary General Marrack Goulding.

The IDF denied Goulding entry to two refugee camps in the Gaza Strip last week, because they were under curfew. Rabin said, however, that Goulding had the right to visit refugee camps, because United Nations organizations are working in them. But he drew the line against foreign parliamentary delegations.

The defense minister expressed outrage over the arrival of a group of parliamentarians from Brazil to investigate conditions in the camps. “Let them examine first the situation in the slums of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro,” he said.

It was reported from Geneva, meanwhile, that the International Committee of the Red Cross is sending the head of its Middle East department, Michel Amiquet, to visit the administered territories. He leaves Wednesday and will return to Geneva with a report on the situation. He is scheduled to meet with Rabin.

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