Israeli Soldiers Fire, Wounding 1; Arabs Hurle Firebombs
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli border police in the West Bank opened fire on Palestinian protesters Tuesday, wounding one, and Arabs hurled firebombs at soldiers in the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Yitzhak said the policy of using beatings to quell protest applies only during violent demonstrations.
Border policemen shot a Palestinian in the leg when dozens of protesters, many covering their faces with checkered Arab headdresses, surrounded a patrol in the Jenin refugee camp, an army spokesman said.
He said the patrol used tear gas and rubber bullets first, then fired because their lives were in danger.
The Arab-run Palestine Press Service said Israeli gunfire wounded two Arabs, one 12 years old, during protests at the West Bank town of El Bireh and the Jalazoon refugee camp near Nablus. Photographers saw 15 Arabs detained at Jalazoon.
An army spokeswoman denied any Palestinians were wounded by shooting at El Bireh or Jalazoon. She said a large demonstration began at Jalazoon after two foreign television crews entered the camp and two Arab women were injured, one by a rubber bullet and one by beating.
Riots began Dec. 8 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war. Thirty-eight Arabs have been killed by Israeli gunfire, according to U.N. figures, and Rabin says the policy of using beatings rather than bullets took effect Jan. 5.
In response to domestic and foreign critics, the defense minister said Tuesday soldiers would use physical force only ″against perpetrators of violence during the violence.″
″There is no policy of punishing by beatings,″ Rabin said. ″The orders are against using force such as beatings even in hot pursuit. ... If (the protester) doesn’t resist, the soldiers won’t use force.″
He conceded in an interview with army radio, however, that ″there were exceptions″ - violations of the rule - that were being investigated.
An Associated Press reporter who visited two of the largest hospitals in the Gaza Strip said officials reported treating about 600 people injured by beatings since Jan. 5.
Colin Sutherland, a U.N. field worker from Britain, said seven victims of beatings were treated Tuesday in Gaza. He and hospital officials said many Gazans were victims of indiscriminate beatings.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir acceded to a U.S. request and lifted a travel ban on Hanna Siniora, a Palestinian editor who tried to organize a civil disobedience campaign.
Gen. Ehud Barak, chief of staff, said the army will restore tough curfews if necessary.
″It could happen that long-term curfews will continue,″ the Israeli news agency Itim quoted him as saying. ″Only with persistence and patience will we have a reasonable chance to reach relative calm.″
On Israel radio, he said four times the normal number of soldiers are assigned to the occupied territories. The army does not say precisely how many soldiers are stationed in an area.
Barak also indicated reserves would be called up to replace regular army units.
″The army wants more reservists called up so regular units can return to training for their missions,″ an army statement said, adding that reservists were ″more mature.″
Israel radio said a curfew was reimposed on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza after protesters hurled firebombs at soldiers.
No injuries were reported. The camp has been under curfew for most of the past two weeks, and for 28 days since protests began, U.N. officials said.
Curfews were put on the Jenin camp and two West Bank villages after Tuesday’s demonstrations.
Street vendors sold vegetables in Arab east Jerusalem, but shops were closed for the 20th day in protest of army tactics.
Stores reopened in Gaza City, and the Itim agency said nearly all the 50,000 Palestinians from Gaza who work in Israel went to their jobs.
Aryeh Pikl, a Labor Ministry spokesman, said a survey of 224 Israeli business employing 6,011 Palestinians indicated attendance at work ranging from 68 percent in hotels to 94 percent in agriculture.
Yehuda Greenbaum, chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association, said bookings were down, with some cancellations due to the political situation.
″Two months ago, you could not get a room in Jerusalem for March, April and May,″ he said.
Hani Shubeita of the 47-room American Colony Hotel said its business was booming because ″most of our guests are journalists.″