JERUSALEM — Two Palestinian demonstrators were shot to death Monday and up to 20 others were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the worst day of violence since before Christmas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The deaths, which occurred near Anabta, a West Bank Arab village about 60 miles northwest of Jerusalem, were the first unrest-related fatalities since Jan. 15 in the occupied territories. They brought to at least 38 the number of Palestinians killed since the anti-Israeli riots began last Dec. 9.
Lethal Force Resumed
The shootings also reflected a willingness by the Israelis to resume the use of lethal force after less severe methods failed to curb the unrest.
Palestinian sources and Israeli army spokesmen both reported the use of live ammunition by troops throughout the territories. But they differed as to how many had been wounded and in what circumstances.
The Palestine Press Service, a news agency that is pro-Palestine Liberation Organization and has widespread sources in the area, said Israeli soldiers killed Moayad Shaar, 21, and Mourad Hamdallah, 17, in a demonstration at a roadblock near Anabta. Four other people were wounded by gunfire, the agency said, including a woman said to be in serious condition with a bullet in the chest.
Stopped at Barricade
An Israeli army spokeswoman said several cars traveling in the area were stopped at a barricade about 10:30 a.m. and were attacked by several hundred demonstrators.
There was a police vehicle among those stopped, as well as buses carrying soldiers and cars with men in civilian clothes, the army spokeswoman said.
"When the attacks became severe, several men got out and started shooting," she continued. "We don't know who did the shooting, soldiers or civilians, but two men were killed and a woman wounded."
Shortly afterward, an army patrol arrived and opened fire, she said, wounding two more demonstrators in the legs.
If Israeli civilians were shown to be involved in the killings, it would be the second time non-military personnel have killed Palestinians since the unrest began. On Jan. 11, Israeli settlers from the West Bank killed one Palestinian and wounded another.
Army officers said that a total of eight Palestinians were wounded in demonstrations that ranged from Janin in the north of the West Bank to the Bethlehem and Hebron areas south of Jerusalem. Other demonstrations elsewhere in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Names, Ages Cited
The Palestine Press Service and other Arab sources said that at least 20 people suffered gunshot wounds in the course of the day. The news agency provided names and ages to support its account.
The army's sparse accounts made no significant mention of beatings. For about a week and a half, apparently because of domestic and international criticism of Israel's use of gunfire, the military had limited itself to using clubs and fists. But as the protesters realized that they were not likely to be shot, their aggressiveness increased. And, as reports spread of deliberate beatings by Israeli troops, the use of physical force came under increasing international criticism.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Monday that the use of force, including shootings, will continue.
"The main aim is to achieve calm by taking the initiative against the participants and the instigators of violent acts," he said in an Israel Radio broadcast.
Casbah Ordered Searched
Gen. Amram Mitzna ordered a house-to-house search of the so-called Casbah Nablus in the largest city on the West Bank, which has been the center of the recent violence. The casbah, an old section in the center of Nablus, has been virtually in the hands of rebellious Arabs for the last two days.
Senior army officers said that several ringleaders were arrested and that significant amounts of weapons and ammunition were seized. In the current round of unrest, the demonstrators have not used firearms, relying on such weapons as rocks, bottles and, occasionally, knives.
The army also imposed curfews on additional towns and refugee camps. According to sources on both sides, eight areas are under total curfew, including two cities closed to journalists and other non-governmental personnel--Nablus and Tulkarm, the largest city near Anabta.
Less than a week ago, there was no curfew in effect as the Israelis began to hope for at least a lull in the fighting. But even though the closing of Nablus and the other areas produced no significant opposition Monday, resistance spread elsewhere, including the commercial center of Arab East Jerusalem.
Army Uses Tear Gas
In mid-morning, young men erected barriers across the narrow, crowded downtown street. This brought army patrols and, finally, the use of tear gas.
As the Arabs intensified their opposition to Israeli occupation, Israeli settlers on the West Bank were also showing signs of aggressiveness, possibly in response to the firebombing of a car Sunday in which a settler was seriously burned.