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Jewish Settlers Kill Arab Youth in Latest Spate of Violence

January 12, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two armed Jewish settlers fatally shot a 16-year-old Arab boy and wounded another Monday at Beitin village, near Ramallah in the West Bank.

A second Arab youth was killed by an Israeli soldier whose weapon he tried to steal during a melee in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Disturbances in the territories continued and concern was expressed in Israeli circles that the latest Arab fatalities might escalate the situation.

The two settlers, Arye Wallerstein, head of the Matei Yehuda West Bank Regional Council, and Shai Ben-Yosef, the council’s security officer, were detained for questioning.

Gen. Amram Mitzna, army commander of the central sector, said an initial investigation indicated that they used their weapons in compliance with regulations that apply to the Israel Defense Force and armed settlers.

The two reportedly opened fire when their vehicle was blocked by burning tires and they were surrounded by rock-throwing youths. Regulations permit firing live ammunition in life-threatening situations.

The Gush Emunim, the movement of religious-nationalist militants in the West Bank, demanded the immediate release of the Matei Yehuda men and other Jews held in custody for shooting Arabs.

They also demanded a “Zionist response to Arab unrest” through the immediate establishment of more Jewish enclaves in Arab towns in towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


In other incidents Monday, a passenger was slightly injured when an Egged bus was stoned on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Curfews were imposed on several refugee camps in the area.

Arab merchants observed strikes in Hebron and Ramallah. Three rioters were detained in East Jerusalem. An Arab wounded in disturbances several days ago died Monday at Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel.

A senior military figure was quoted by the news media Monday as saying the IDF’s prolonged presence in the administered territories put serious financial strains on the defense budget.

He also said that “despite the great differences” the situation in the territories “is beginning to resemble Lebanon — large forces concentrated in the field and no one knowing how long we will be stuck there.”

It is believed, moreover, that even if the security forces succeed in ending the violence, the IDF will have to concentrate more troops in the territories than were routinely sent there before general rioting broke out Dec. 9.

Zeev Schiff, Haaretz’s defense affairs correspondent, reported Monday that the Cabinet plans to order collective punishment in the Gaza Strip. The populations of refugee camps and neighbor-hoods that are the worst trouble spots would be put under a general curfew, unable to work or go about their daily tasks.

The supposition is, according to Schiff, that the local populations will put pressure on the leaders of demonstrations to end the violence. But the plan entails considerable risk and could be counter-productive if the general population decides it has nothing more to lose and joins the rioters, Schiff warned.


Ron Ben-Yishai, military correspondent for Yediot Achronot, wrote Monday that the reasons the current wave of disturbances is lasting longer than any in the past are the attention commanded by the Palestinians in the international arena and the rivalry between groups associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization and religious fundamentalists for control of the Arab population.

Other factors are “the prolonged accumulation of destructive emotional energy in the territories which has not yet been fully released, and outside incitement by the PLO propaganda machine,” Ben-Yishai wrote.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Israeli victims of Arab terrorist acts left for the United State on Sunday for the stated purpose of “balancing” American news media accounts of strife in the territories.

According to Meir Indor, a former Gush Emunim spokesman, the group was formed “in order to show the world the great suffering experienced by bereaved families in Israel. Israel is always being accused of causing terrorism and killing Arabs,” he said. “The world must understand that rocks, bottles and knives kill people too.”

Members of the group include Indor, who was wounded while serving as a medic in the Gaza Strip, and Abie Moses, whose wife Ofra and 4-year-old son Tal died of burns after a gasoline bomb struck their car in the West Bank last year.

The delegation hopes to appear on American television and address as many groups as possible during its stay in the United States. The group is scheduled to hold a news conference in New York on Wednesday.

In an unrelated development. Yossi Wertcener, an IDF draftee who refused to serve in East Jerusalem, was sentenced Sunday to 28 days in a military prison. Wertcener, as a high school student, signed a petition against military service in the administered territories.

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