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Three Arabs Killed, As Unrest Spreads to Jewish Neighborhoods

February 7, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Three more Arabs were Killed in the West Bank on Sunday as riots flared throughout the territory, where about 170,000 Palestinians are living under tight curfew.

Violence spilled over into Jerusalem, including Jewish neighborhoods, and for the second time in less than a month, police were forced to clamp a curfew within the environs of the capital.

Unrest has continued almost unabated for nearly two months. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, briefing the Cabinet on Sunday, left the distinct impression that no end is in sight, according to government sources.

Even as the ministers debated the situation, residents of Beit-Umar village on the Jerusalem-Hebron road were clashing with Israel Defense Force units sent there to dismantle roadblocks and break up a riot.

The residents, exhorted over the public address system at the local mosque to take to the streets, confronted Israeli soldiers with rocks and bottles. Rubber bullets, tear gas and finally live ammunition were fired.

The IDF reported three residents killed and several wounded. A curfew was imposed on the village. Curfews also were in effect in Nablus, Tulkarm and a number of refugee camps.

On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians from the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, between the Jewish neighborhoods of French Hill and Pisgat-Zeev, blocked the roads and prepared to attack cars. According to police, they marched toward Pisgat-Zeev.

Police reinforcements rushed to the scene and used tear gas to force the demonstrators back into the camp, which was then sealed by a curfew.


Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem, who visited the camp Sunday, expressed regret, but conceded that there was no alternative under the circumstances.

Until recently, policy had been to refrain from imposing curfews anywhere in Jerusalem. Kollek has often pointed with pride to the city as an example that Jews and Arabs can coexist peacefully, although there have been serious incidents of violence, mainly in the Arab sectors of East Jerusalem.

But a precedent was set on Jan. 23 and 24 when a 24-hour curfew was imposed on the Arab neighborhood of A-Tur, on the Mount of Olives, after residents rioted and blocked the road to the Jerusalem Intercontinental Hotel.

Kollek at the time was angered by the police action, taken apparently without prior consultation. The curfew was lifted at A-Tur at his insistence.

Violent demonstrations broke out Sunday in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Isawiya and Jabel Mukabar.

At one point, about 100 Palestinian youths approached the Jewish neighborhood of East Talpiyot and pelted houses with stones. Police dispersed them. Nine arrests were reported. The windows of Jewish homes in East Talpiyot were smashed by Arab rock-throwers just a week ago.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown Sunday at police headquarters in Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel. There were no injuries or damage, and police were not certain whether the attack had a political or criminal motive.

Anyone who has observed this seemingly endless round of Arab violence in the territories from its outset cannot help noticing certain changes. When the violence first broke out Dec. 9 with a series of riots in the Gaza Strip, it was spontaneous.

One of the immediate causes was the death of a Palestinian truck driver in a collision with an Israeli military vehicle. Rumors spread swiftly that the accident was deliberate. Riots broke out from place to place with no apparent organization or pattern behind them.


But this has changed. Events in the territories are now guided by leaflets clandestinely spread during the night in Arab towns and refugee camps. It is not clear where they originate, but the population by and large obeys their instruction.

The centers of unrest shift from town to town and camp to camp. Sometimes the violence bursts out simultaneously at different locations and there clearly seems to be a guiding hand.

Whereas in the past, the Palestine Liberation Organization engaged in incitement from its bases in Jordan, Lebanon or Tunisia, now the guidance is internal. The PLO and other terrorist groups give their blessings, but Israeli officials who usually blame every act of violence on the PLO or its many splinter terrorist groups, now admit the terrorists are not running the show.

The terrorists do play an effective part in the present situation. “Voice of Jerusalem,” a Palestinian radio station broadcast from Syria by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jabril, instructs the Palestinians in the territories where and how to act.

Other changes in the situation include the spread of violence to Jerusalem and the support the ongoing Palestinian protest is getting from Israel’s Arab community, which staged a one-day general strike Dec. 21, which was accompanied by several serious disturbances.

All Arab schools and colleges have been closed indefinitely in the West Bank because of the riots that immediately broke out when they reopened after the midterm recess last week. Similarly, curfews prevent rioting only as long as they are in force.

Another new development is signs of Jewish vigilantism. Scores of Arab cars were vandalized Saturday night in Hebron. No one claimed responsibility, but Rabbi Meir Kahane’s extremist Kach Party praised the act. In East Jerusalem, unidentified persons sabotaged water pipes, causing a severe water shortage in the predominantly Arab area.

On Sunday, the entire stretch of road between Tulkarm and Nablus was deserted. In towns not under curfew, local merchants shuttered their shops as part of a month-old commercial strike.

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