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Israeli Arabs Leave Violent Protests to Palestinians

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

Israeli Arabs Leave Violent Protests to Palestinians
Tensions remain high throughout Israel, as Palestinians staged violent riots and shooting attacks on Thursday and into Friday, when Israeli Arabs were more subdued in their annual "Land Day" protests.

After absorbing a number of bloody terror attacks this week, Israeli helicopter gun-ships were ordered to launch precision air raids on Wednesday evening against a facility in Ramallah and four structures in Gaza, all belonging to Force 17 - PLO chief Yasser Arafat's elite presidential guard. The four Gaza targets included a storage facility, a training base, and an armored vehicle.

The IAF raids were launched after a spree of Palestinian terrorist attacks this week killed three Jewish children within the space of 36 hours and wounded dozens of others. Israel has evidence that Force 17 has been behind much of the Palestinian terrorism of recent weeks, especially mortar attacks in Gaza and drive-by shootings in Judea/Samaria. Israeli government spokesmen said that the attacks were just the beginning of a long campaign against terrorist targets.

Initial Palestinian reports said one Force 17 officer and a woman were killed in Ramallah, and scores, mainly Force 17 members, were wounded in the Gaza strikes. Following Israeli advance warnings, the Palestinians had begun evacuating security establishments in several cities.

The IDF said, "We believe that the time has come for Force 17, which has an official standing in the PA, to take responsibility for acts of terror perpetrated by its forces or attacks planned and endorsed by its commanders... This is a signal... we are unwilling to endure this wave of violence... We endured eight attacks in the period of a week that resulted in three fatalities and 47 injuries. We believe this is enough!"

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that "Arafat has to understand the price of the continued conflict with us if he insists on continuing the violence."

A Force 17 operative was also killed Wednesday night by IDF forces as he was trying to infiltrate the Jewish town of Netzarim in Gaza. Palestinians fired mortar shells at IDF targets during long battles with Israeli forces near Gadid and elsewhere in Gaza.

On Thursday, Palestinians sparked widespread clashes with IDF soldiers, and there were more protests against the inaction of Israeli security forces by Jewish activists in Hebron, where 10-month-old baby Shalhevet Pass was murdered Monday. The family of the infant girl has decided she will be laid to rest on Sunday, after delaying her funeral to demand the re-taking of the Arab hillside neighborhood overlooking the Jewish enclaves in Hebron.

Hebron residents have been angrily protesting their precarious security situation since the child's death on Monday. In Hebron, police and the special anti-terror squad forced a large group of Jewish residents off the rooftops of Palestinian buildings outside the Jewish Avraham Avinu quarter. According to police, they were damaging solar water heaters, and resisted the police call to move.

Thursday afternoon, IDF tanks shelled a building in the Abu Sneneh neighborhood of Hebron after soldiers spotted two armed Palestinians entering it. The sniper who killed Shalhevet fired from this same area on Monday night. Later yesterday, IDF soldiers spotted another Palestinian gunmen standing by the window of another building, and fired at him with machine guns.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials claim the Fatah sniper who deliberately shot Shalhevet in the head has been arrested. But the Palestinians said the gunman' arrest did not owe to his involvement in the child's murder, but was due to internal Palestinian matters, and plans by certain elements to challenge Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, head of security in the "West Bank." In the past, the PA has been quick to arrest terror suspects wanted by Israel as a means of preventing their extradition, and has also been quick to release those it arrests not long afterwards.

Palestinian sources said two Arab youths were killed by IDF soldiers during clashes near the Erez industrial site on the edge of the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with soldiers at the site throughout the day, attempting to overrun an IDF outpost, throwing stones and over 45 firebombs. Elsewhere, shots were fired at Israeli civilian buses, a Jewish village and an IDF patrol in the Ramallah area.

Also yesterday, an explosion in Rafiah killed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and injured three others, Palestinian sources said. The sources claimed the blast occured when a booby-trapped toy exploded. They alleged the IDF planted the device, but the IDF denied the charge.

In addition, Palestinian sources alleged that a Palestinian was killed and another wounded when Israeli forces opened fire as they tried to enter Gaza by climbing a border fence that divides a refugee camp between Gaza and Egypt. The Israeli military said it was unaware of the incident.

Israeli Arabs on Friday marked Land Day with relatively peaceful protests in various places in the North and South of the country, but Palestinians turned it into another violent "day of rage," leaving two Palestinians dead and more than 30 wounded during violent clashes with IDF troops.

In Israeli Arab towns, residents waved PLO flags, pictures of former Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel-Nasser, and directed derisive chants at Israel and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The main Land Day ceremony took place in Sakhnin in the Galilee this afternoon. "Land Day" commemorates the killings by Israeli police of six Israeli Arabs during mass protests in 1976 against land expropriation policies.

One of the Palestinian deaths today occurred when about 1,000 protesters laid siege to an IDF checkpoint outside Ramallah. Upon learning of the death, Palestinian demonstrators pulled back from the flashpoint to allow Palestinian gunmen to open fire on IDF units from nearby buildings, drawing Israeli heavy machinegun fire. The Palestinian Red Crescent said seven Palestinians were also shot and wounded with live ammunition and three by rubber-coated metal bullets during the assault on the checkpoint.

There were similar large Palestinian marches and riots in Hebron, Nablus, Kalkilya and the Gaza Strip, with several dozen reportedly wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas.

In the walled Old City of Jerusalem, police scuffled with about 100 stone-throwing Palestinians, arresting at least four protesters, while five police were injured. The Palestinians threw rocks and blocked streets near entrances to the Temple Mount. Police evacuated the Western Wall plaza for about an hour after Palestinians threw rocks on Jews praying in the area. Palestinians also threw firebombs and rocks on the Via Dolorosa.

Palestinian gunmen also fired shots at an Israeli vehicle on the Jericho bypass road Friday. And Palestinian youths hurled a Molotov cocktail at border policemen adjacent to Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives.

Jerusalem woman Danielle Fein is still in serious condition after a large rock was thrown on her car Tuesday night. She was hit in the head as she was traveling in Samaria. Danielle and her fiancée were on their way to a family celebration of their engagement when an Arab threw the near-fatal rock.

With the Palestinian intifada now six months old, the rising death toll has reached at least 360 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 69 other Israelis since last September.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Israeli Arabs Leave Violent Protests to Palestinians