Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israeli Officials Defend Blasting Policy; Compensation Paid to Arabs

March 11, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli officials said tonight that the practice of blowing up houses where Arab saboteurs lived or illegal weapons were found was carried out in line with the duty of an occupying power to protect the peace of the local population as required by the Geneva convention.

The statement was understood to be in response to a criticism by the State Department over such Israeli activities. The officials added that such actions were legal in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip under British regulations which have not been abolished. They added that acts of sabotage perpetrated by organizations whose avowed aim was to create bloodshed and destruction in the occupied areas must be treated as acts of war.

The Jerusalem municipality and the Israel army meanwhile made prompt payment of compensation to Arabs whose homes were damaged when Army sappers blew up Wednesday night, a house belonging to a captured El Fatah leader in East Jerusalem. Army teams also repaired damages suffered by a home for blind girls when a nearby garage owned by the same Fatah leader also was blown up.

Municipal officials protested to the army over the manner in which the action was carried out at night, purportedly without adequate warning the residents of the neighborhood and without prior consultation with Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. The Jerusalem Post declared editorially that blowing up a residence might be suitable punishment for persons sheltering Arab terrorists in areas under military control but not in East Jerusalem which is now part of Israel.

Women army officers visited Arab families today in the area and distributed candy to children as a goodwill gesture. They also visited the Mary Lovell home for blind children. Authorities had been unaware that the home was damaged until the British Consul General here so informed the Foreign Ministry.

Ninety-seven Arabs were released from prison yesterday by Israeli authorities in an amnesty on the occasion of the Moslem sacrificial feast of Id Aladha. They had been serving sentences for various offenses including security violations. But the Arab population in Jerusalem and the West Bank marked the holiday in a subdued mood. There was little mutual visiting and not all Moslem shops were closed. The Arabs were concerned not only by the buildings blasted in East Jerusalem but by the deportation a day earlier of the former Arab Mayor, Roukhi El Khatib, who was a popular figure locally. He was expelled to Jordan for exhorting Arabs not to cooperate with Israeli authorities, and for illegal money transfer.

Recommended from JTA