JERUSALEM — Israeli security officials sought to reassure government ministers and the Israeli public Sunday that they have controlled the uprisings on the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip, even as violence rocked the areas for the fifth consecutive day.
At least six more Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army gunfire Sunday, and half a dozen soldiers were injured by rock-throwing demonstrators in a continuation of what Israeli commentators are calling the most serious situation in the occupied areas since 1981.
6 Dead, 70 Wounded
Israeli officials acknowledge total Palestinian casualties of six dead and about 70 wounded since last Wednesday. Palestinian sources in the occupied zones claim that eight have died and that the number of wounded amounts to scores more than officially reported.
An Arab West Bank human rights organization, Law in the Service of Man, which is affiliated with the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, protested Sunday what it called the "uncensured and indiscriminate use of live ammunition" by Israeli forces.
Appealing for international intervention, the organization said: "Ironically, the (Israeli) authorities recently announced the introduction of new riot control procedures and equipment, including sniper rifles, that purportedly were to reduce the number of casualties during demonstrations. There has instead been a dramatic increase in fatalities."
At least one Israeli newspaper quoted unidentified senior military sources as calling the disturbances a full-scale "civil revolt."
However, Gen. Dan Shomron, army chief of staff, and Shmuel Goren, head of Israel's military government in the occupied territories, assured ministers at a regular Cabinet meeting that such reports were exaggerated.
Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of Israeli forces on the West Bank, told Jewish settlers in the area that the situation is "firmly under control." And Gen. Shaike Erez, head of the West Bank military government, said in a radio interview that "there is reason for optimism" that unrest will die down soon.
Other security sources said they expected the latest clashes to subside by later this week, although they warned that the situation is bound to flare up again as long as no political solution to the Palestinian problem is found.
4 Gazans Wounded
In reporting six Palestinian casualties, the army said that soldiers wounded four Gazans while dispersing stone-throwing demonstrators at several locations in the Gaza Strip. Two other people were wounded in the West Bank town of Hebron after a bus carrying Israeli soldiers was stoned. Three soldiers were hurt by broken glass.
Israel radio reported disturbances in four West Bank refugee camps, including Balata, near Nablus, where an 11-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and a woman in her 50s were shot to death during clashes with the army Friday. Businessmen in Ramallah and Nablus closed their stores in protest over the deaths.