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Rabin Tells Rioters Israeli Troops Will Step Up Use of Force

January 19, 1988|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin confronted stone-throwing Palestinians in a West Bank refugee camp today and said the army will use more force to quell riots that began six weeks ago.

He also said Israel won't let foreign countries or private groups ship food to Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied territories, where at least 36 Arabs have been killed by Israeli gunfire since Dec. 8. U.N. officials say some camps are short of food because of curfews.

Rabin promised that the army will leave the camps when order is restored but that troops have orders to use "force, power and blows" against violent protest. He used the Hebrew word makot, which means blows or beatings.

Scattered disturbances were reported today in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War, but Rabin claimed that violent incidents were down "almost to zero." About 1.5 million Palestinians live in the territories.

Military spokesmen reported "a violent riot" in Mazraa, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. They said a 29-year-old Arab, Azami Jamaa, was hospitalized with a bullet in the chest.

Denies Food Shortages

The defense minister denied that there are food shortages in the camps. Soldiers barred a convoy of four food-laden trucks sent by a private Israeli organization from entering the Gaza Strip.

Rabin said Israel will not permit foreign countries or charities to send supplies to refugee camps because help is not needed and any shortages are caused by commercial strikes, not Israeli actions.

"We will not allow any support from the outside . . . not by countries, not by organizations, because there are commodities and once all shops open there will be no shortage of any commodities," he told Israel radio.

Asked whether that means that shipments would be blocked, he said, "No doubt about it."

Defense Ministry officials said the ban does not include supplies for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which administers the refugee camps.

Rocks Shower Onto Street

When Rabin was in the main square of the Jelazoun refugee camp 10 miles north of Jerusalem, a dozen rocks showered onto the street 15 yards away.

Several reporters saw the incident, including a correspondent for Israel radio and Associated Press photographer Eli Hershkovitz, who was hit on the leg by a stone.

Rabin had been walking toward the spot where the stones landed, but was not injured. Bodyguards with M-16 rifles peered around for the stone-throwers.

A motorcade drove Rabin through streets blackened by fires, past walls that had collapsed because stones were ripped out for use as weapons.

Palestinians clustered around him, complaining in Arabic and Hebrew.

'It Hurts Our Hearts'

"You've taken a lot of young people away without a reason," one said.

"Everybody who was taken away deserves it, and until there is quiet that's how it's going to be," the 65-year-old former general retorted.

In Arab east Jerusalem, where a commercial strike was in its second day, police said they will take tough action against it. In Ramallah, soldiers forced striking shopkeepers to open.

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