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Use Less Force, U.S. Tells Israel : Crackdown on Agitators Seen; Strife Goes On

December 23, 1987|DAN FISHER | Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — Israeli security forces Tuesday were reported preparing a wave of arrests and expulsions of alleged West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian agitators, and at least two more Arabs died from Israeli gunfire as the civil unrest that has rocked the country entered its third week.

Israeli officials adopted a newly aggressive public stance toward the violence despite international criticism of the continuing bloodshed, with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and others saying that "rioters must realize they are not immune from . . . serious injury."

Rabin also told a caucus of his Labor Alignment faction in the Knesset (Parliament) that agitators will have to be arrested, "even if the number runs into the hundreds."

"Otherwise we shall simply lose control," the defense minister added.

Searching for Suspects

Security forces were already reported to be making house-to-house searches for suspects in the Al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah on Tuesday.

The army has sent massive reinforcements into the occupied areas in the last 48 hours, a step that some Palestinians were quick to see as a victory in itself.

"The Israelis always wanted it to appear as a benevolent occupation," one Arab journalist said. "Now the occupation is clear to everybody. It's an indirect Israeli admission that they have to have soldiers in the street all the time."

Also, military authorities extended a West Bank school closure order through the weekend. And they ordered Al Quds, the largest Arabic-language newspaper published here, to cease distribution in the occupied territories for one month.

The unrest, which on Monday spread for the first time from the occupied territories across the so-called Green Line and into the Israeli heartland, appeared to be unifying the country's fractious coalition government in a way that few issues have proved capable of doing during its more than three years in office.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called at the Labor Party caucus for a truce with the rival Likud Bloc of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for the duration of the violence.

Israeli leaders have clearly been surprised and shaken both by the extent and duration of the disturbances on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and by Monday's near-total strike by the country's 700,000 Arab citizens in solidarity with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

While the strike passed much more peacefully inside Israel than it did in the territories, some main Israeli roads were closed temporarily by roadblocks, and there were a number of demonstrations, including stone throwing and scuffles with police. More than 100 Israeli Arab citizens were arrested.

Israel's Arab sectors appeared to return to normal Tuesday, but President Chaim Herzog nevertheless felt it necessary to admonish the demonstrators that they had been misguided in their actions and would only "encourage those (Israeli) elements who see every Israeli Arab as a potential enemy and a fifth columnist."

Herzog called Monday's joint protest by the Arabs of Israel and the territories "another chapter of the Palestinian tragedy--a tragedy that has been prolonged by extremists and the blind leadership that has brought disaster after disaster upon the Palestinians over the years."

Rather than tragedy, however, the events of the last two weeks here appear only to have inspired what Yehuda Litani, the Jerusalem Post's Arabic-speaking Middle East editor, called "a wave of real pride in the territories."

Fight Own Battles

To the Palestinians, those slain during anti-Israeli demonstrations are martyrs to a desperate new readiness by residents of the territories to fight their own battles against the Israeli government rather than look to the surrounding Arab countries or even to outside Palestinian organizations.

The latest victims, confirmed by the army, included a Gazan shot to death by soldiers during a clash at Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp Tuesday afternoon and at least one West Bank man who died in the hospital of wounds received during violent disturbances on Monday in Janin.

The pro-PLO Palestine Press Service identified the dead as Saled Hmeid, 17, from Gaza, and Mohammed Rashed abu Aziz, 18, from Janin. It claimed that another man wounded in Janin on Monday, Mohammed Ghoul, 17, also died, but the army said it could not confirm the report.

Tuesday's toll brought to at least 21 the number of Palestinians killed by army gunfire during unrest that began Dec. 9. Palestinian sources put the number at 25, and an army spokesman conceded Tuesday that it is possible some victims may have been buried by their families without the military's knowledge.

The army said six more Palestinians were wounded by gunshots Tuesday in Jabaliya, Janin and two villages in the Hebron hills south of Jerusalem--Yatta and Idna. The total number of wounded since the trouble started is now more than 160, according to daily army tallies, and may run to more than 200, according to Palestinian sources.

Too Lenient, Israelis Say

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