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Trouble in the Gaza Strip

December 9, 1981
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The Military Governor of the Gaza Strip today sealed off the area from local and foreign reporters, preventing them from attending a press conference called by the Gaza municipality and to cover events in the town of Rafah where a local youth was killed and three other teenagers were injured in a clash with soldiers yesterday.

The Gaza press conference had been called to explain the background to a general strike there, now in its fourth day. The work stoppage, including the closing of all shops and institutions in the town, is a protest against Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s plans to split the military and civilian sectors of the Military Government. Local residents say this is really aimed at perpetuating Israeli control over the area, even in the guise of local autonomy.

Israeli soldiers went around in Gaza today, welding shut a number of shops which had closed their doors, as punishment for the strike which Israeli officials say was called by pro-Palestine Liberation Organization elements.

Tension has been high throughout the Gaza Strip during the strike, but especially so in Rafah, through which town the old-new international border will run when Israel completes its withdrawal from Sinai next April. Prior to 1967, the border just skirted the town limits, but extensive building since then has brought the built-up town limits well across the old border.

In a demonstration by youths there yesterday, soldiers surrounded by a mob of demonstrators who pelted them with stones, opened fire to escape. The soldiers said they fired into the air, and their commanders said they obeyed all intructions how to behave under such circumstances. But one 16-year-old demonstrator was killed, three other teen-agers were injured, and an Israeli soldier was wounded in the clash.

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