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Israelis Brace for New Riots in Territories : Army Triples Gaza Force in Advance of PLO Anniversary

December 29, 1987|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israel has flooded its occupied territories with troops because it expects Palestinian youths to riot again on Friday, the anniversary of the largest PLO guerrilla group's founding.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron was quoted today as telling Israeli military reporters that the army has tripled its strength in the Gaza Strip and now has more troops there than it used to capture the territory from Egypt in 1967.

The army also has doubled the number of troops in the occupied West Bank, Israeli newspapers quoted him as saying.

The precautions were taken for the 23rd anniversary of the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Al Fatah group. "Fatah Day," as Palestinians call it, often has been marked by violence and bloodshed.

"The riots in the territories will not happen again," Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said in an interview published today. "Even if we have to use massive force, we will not allow last week's events to repeat themselves."

Arab Fatalities Told

At least 21 Arabs were killed by army gunfire and 179 were wounded in the rioting, while 41 Israeli soldiers and 27 civilians were injured by stones or firebombs thrown by Arab demonstrators, according to Shomron, who released revised figures at the briefing.

He did not give figures for troop strength in the occupied territories.

Shomron also was quoted as saying the army would start training soldiers in riot control, an area left until now to the paramilitary border police.

Rabin said Israel will "go on using" deportations to punish security offenders, despite concern that "in the long run they (expulsions) can corrode the support for Israel in American public opinion."

"Deportation is a meaningful punishment," the Haaretz newspaper quoted him as saying.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Ehud Gol said Israel has not decided on expelling leaders of the riots.

"Israel is acting to restore calm and will continue to do so with the legal means at its disposal," he said. "The whole issue is subject to an Israeli decision, and until now no decision has been taken."

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