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One Hurt as Arab Deportees Protest Exile

April 17, 1993|MARILYN RASCHKA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MARJ ZAHOUR, Lebanon — Dressed in white shrouds, hundreds of Palestinian deportees marked the end of their fourth month of exile in southern Lebanon by marching toward Israeli lines to protest the scheduled resumption next week of Middle East peace talks.

Crossing a two-mile no-man's-land toward Israel's security zone north of the Israeli frontier, the marchers halted after one of them was slightly injured by a piece of rock dislodged by fire from Israeli tanks.

"We are not here to commit suicide," said Dr. Aziz Dweik.

"We made our point," another marcher said.

The marchers included most of the 396 Palestinians remaining from the 415 accused extremists originally deported from Israeli-occupied territories Dec. 17 after a rash of killings of members of Israeli security forces.

The marchers accused the U.N. Security Council of doing nothing about their cause and of applying double standards. They demanded that all of them be immediately repatriated.

They wore tunics made from bedsheets and emblazoned with slogans like "Death as a way of reaching God is my only wish." The marchers described their tunics as ekfaan , which means "death shrouds" in Arabic.

They halted their march about 50 yards short of a gate marking the boundary of the self-proclaimed security zone.

Their spokesman, Dr. Abdul Aziz Rantisi, accused the United Nations of paying no attention to the deportees' human rights.

"We are not goods for trade," Rantisi said. "We'll never accept anything other than U.N. Resolution 799," which calls for the immediate repatriation of the men.

Dweik, who received an advanced university degree in the United States, declared, "The U.N. resolution calls for our immediate return--immediate; I'd like to show that word to a first-grader and see what he says it means."

Having survived a blustery winter under primitive conditions, for the last week the deportees have endured a heat wave accompanied by a hot wind that blows in Lebanon in April.

The march of about two miles took about six hours to complete, with stops for rest and prayer and rousing speeches. As the march resumed after each stop, two Israeli tanks fired shells that landed within 150 yards of the protesters. Smoke and dirt filled the air.

"We're used to these things," one deportee told a worried journalist. "We've grown up with them."

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