Soldiers Seize Arab ID Cards In Door-to-Door Sweep
GAZA CITY, Occupied Gaza Strip (AP) _ Israeli soldiers banged on doors and seized Palestinian identity papers today, the start of a month-long campaign to force 400,000 Arabs in the Gaza Strip to renew their government ID cards.
Arab underground leaders issued a warning from a mosque loudpeaker, ordering Gazans not to cooperate with the army. They said the program was an attempt to abort the Palestinian uprising.
Also today, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian after their jeep was stoned in the West Bank village of Ramin, the army command said. The unidentified youth was taken to Tulkarem hospital where he was in serious condition, Israel radio reported.
A soldier was slightly injured in the incident.
In Gaza City, hundreds of people crowded into a school which has been converted into a makeshift registration center. Many said the army forced them to come.
″At dawn this morning, the troops entered people’s homes. They knocked at the door and asked for IDs and told us we had to change them,″ said Sheik Khalo, a Moslem religious leader from Gaza City.
One witness told an Arab reporter that soldiers confiscated one portion of the Israeli-issued identity cards, without which the card becomes invalid.
Soldiers told residents of Rimal, a Gaza City neighborhood of 8,000 people that was the first area targeted by the program, to bring two color photographs, fill out applications and pay $10 for new cards.
The orders affect Palestinians between the age of 18 and 60.
Israeli authorities say the new cards are being issued because many of the old ones are torn and worn.
Palestinians say the measure is aimed at increasing military control over the Arab population and breaking a tax boycott, one of the chief tactics of the uprising. Military officials have said residents will have to pay back taxes before being issued new ID cards.
Arabs in the occupied lands must carry an identity card at all times and show the card at frequent security checks. Identity cards are vital for all transactions with the military government.
Many Arabs who showed up today were angry because there was only one official to process their applications.
″It is Ramadan (a Moslem holy month.) We are fasting,″ said Ahmed Abu Hassan, 26. ″We are not animals to spend all day here waiting.″
Israeli troops set up several roadblocks near the registration center and patroled the area with jeeps.
A group of Palestinian youths about 20 yards from the center set tires afire, threw stones at passing cars and told adults not to renew their cards. When army jeeps raced to the scene, the youths ran off.
″The refusal to change the ID cards is the beginning of civil disobedience,′ ′ said one slogan painted on a Gaza wall.
An 18-year-old Palestinian who identified himself only as Mohammed said he would not change his card.
″On the new IDs they will write all the previous times I was in prison,″ he said. ″If it’s written on the ID that I was in prison I will get special treatment. Every time I get stopped, they will beat me.″
In the West Bank, the army kept a curfew today on the Dheisheh refugee camp, where on Monday troops opened fire to disperse stone-throwing youths.
Israeli newspapers reported that a 34-year-old father of seven who died at Dheisheh was killed by a stray bullet while he was at his home up the hill from the protest. The daily Hadashot identified the victim as Ibrahim Hussein.
His death brought to 185 the number of Arabs killed since the uprising began Dec. 8. Two Israelis also have been slain.
Curfews were in place today in the village of Irtas, where troops wounded three Palestinians during a protest Monday, and the Balata and Jabaliya refugee camps.
Elsewhere in the occupied lands and Arab east Jerusalem, a general strike called by underground leaders halted most commerce for a second day. Israeli radio reported, however, that thousands of Palestinian from the occupied territories went to their jobs in Israel.
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the deportation order of Arab-American activist Mubarak Awad until a hearing May 23, but rejected a defense motion for his release from jail after Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Awad could endanger Israel’s security.
Awad, 44, was moved today to Ramle prison from the Jerusalem lockup where he had been held since Thursday, a police spokesman told The Associated Press.
The government has accused Awad, an advocate of civil disobedience against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, of inciting Palestinians to violence. It also says his tourist visa expired.
The defense argues that Awad cannot be deported because he was born in Jerusalem. Awad also is an American citizen and has a home in Wapakoneta, Ohio.