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Arabs Surround Israelis Raiding Village; One Arab Killed

May 18, 1988

ABWEIN, Occupied West Bank (AP) _ Israeli soldiers backed by helicopters and bulldozers raided two Arab mountain villages Wednesday. Hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinians surrounded the force and one Arab was killed, the army said.

Arab doctors and witnesses said 10 Arabs were wounded with live ammunition, at least 20 received injuries from beatings and rubber bullets, and hundreds were arrested.

In a separate incident, troops shot and wounded four Arabs in the marketplace in Nablus, the largest West Bank city, an army spokesman said. He said the soldiers fired to disperse people who had attacked them with stones.

After the fighting in the two mountain villages, army officials confirmed one dead and four wounded. They refused comment on arrests or the reason for the raid, which came at the end of the three-day Id el Fitr holiday marking the conclusion of Ramadan, the Moslem holy month of fasting.

The violence occurred a day after Israeli soldiers clashed with Arab guerrillas who slipped into Israel from Jordan. One Arab was wounded and captured, and two escaped. It was the 13th infiltration or attempted infiltration in six months.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Palestinian guerrilla groups have stepped up infiltration attempts to give a new impetus to the 23-week-old Arab uprising, which he said was ″dying down.″

Since anti-occupation protests began Dec. 8 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers have killed 191 Palestinians. Two Israelis have also died. The lands were seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Rabin accused Jordan and Egypt of not doing enough to prevent the infiltrations. Guerrillas have twice tried to enter Israel from Egypt since Dec. 1.

″There is no doubt in my mind the authorities in Egypt and Jordan are sometimes not doing everything that can be done to prevent the (infiltrations),″ Rabin told Israel radio.

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers moved into the neighboring villages of Abwein and Arura, about 17 miles north of Jerusalem, before dawn Wednesday.

″An Israeli force reached the villages as part of an initiated action and was surrounded by hundreds of Arabs, some of whom climbed nearby hills and attacked the force with a barrage of stones and with slingshots,″ the army said.

It said soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and a commander shot live ammunition to quell the protests.

In both villages, the fighting continued through the morning, with helicopters dropping tear gas, witnesses said. Soldiers eventually gained control and moved from house to house to search for suspects, they said.

In Arura, troops rounded up about 300 young men in a schoolyard, said a 19- year-old Palestinian, speaking from his hospital bed in nearby Ramallah.

The teen-ager, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a soldier kicked him in the head. The man’s right eye wasfurniture, Saam said.

Both Abwein and Arura were what Palestinians call liberated villages. As a sign of defiance against the army, the residents have kept the villages sealed off with roadblocks, flown outlawed Palestinian flags on rooftops and marked walls with pro-PLO graffiti.

Army officials noted that under current policy troops carry out operations even in isolated villages ″to maintain order and show a presence.″

During a tour of Abwein, an Associated Press reporter saw Arabic graffiti covered with white paint. Residents said soldiers had forced them to whitewash the slogans.

Bulldozers pushed aside roadblocks, and residents later showed a reporter fragments of garden walls they said were knocked down.

Villagers said soldiers also forced them to take down Palestinian flags.

A black flag of mourning fluttered from the home of Majdi Youssef Hilal, the 16-year-old youth who was fatally shot in the chest during the clashes.

Doctors at Ramallah Hospital treated bullet wounds of nine villagers, including five in serious condition. Dr. Yasser Obeid, director of the hospital, said five others suffered serious beating injuries.

Update hourly