Army Deports Eight Arabs; Three Palestinian Homes Demolished
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The army today deported eight Arabs accused of being leaders of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule and sent them to Lebanon, a military communique said.
The army also announced it demolished the homes of three Palestinian murder suspects.
About 20 right-wing legislators guarded by soldiers went on a hike in the occupied West Bank to dramatize Israel’s claim to the terrritory.
The expulsions came despite repeated U.S. statements that the measure is a human rights violation and could mire Washington-backed efforts to get Middle East peace talks started.
Israel has deported 55 Palestinians during the 18-month-old Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Most have been expelled to neighboring Lebanon.
An army spokesman said those deported were leaders of the uprising in the territories and activists of Yasser Arafat’s mainstream PLO faction Fatah and of the Syrian-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
There were no immediate details about how they were deported.
The army communique quoted Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin as saying Israel would consider allowing the deportees back home within three years ″if there will be tranquility in the territories.″
Israel contends deportations are an effective way to curb violence.
In a statement published in February, the Foreign Ministry said explusions were only done ″in extreme cases where other measures have not succeeded in stopping hostile activity.″
Four of today’s deportees were from the West Bank and four are from the Gaza Strip.
They include two prominent labor union activists - Mohammed Abdullah Labadi, 34, and Radwan Ahmad Zayad, 31, both of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by Nayef Hawatmeh.
Another is Atah Abu Karesh, 50, from Gaza City, a teacher and a prominent Fatah activist.
All three were jailed without trial in the past for anti-Israeli activities or held on charges of membership in illegal organizations. The army said all those deported had exhausted legal appeals.
Earlier this month, the Democratic Front, to which several of the deportees belong, warned that expelling more Palestinians would torpedo negotiations for the return of the body of Samir Assad, a Druse soldier captured in Lebanon in 1983.
Palestinians maintained he was killed during an Israeli bombing raid on a PLO base in 1984.
The homes razed by the army before dawn included two blown up in Beit Lahiya and one bulldozed in Rafah, both in the Gaza Strip.
The Beit Lahiya houses were home to 15 people, including two members of the Moslem fundamentalist Hamas movement accused of axing to death an alleged Palestinian collaborator, the army and Arab reports said.
The Rafah building belonged to a family whose son was charged with slaying an Israeli soldier in Gaza two years ago. The son was shot to death by soldiers last year after escaping from prison.
Among the right-wing legislators who walked through the West Bank were several members of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud bloc.
The 20 legislators were guarded by about two dozen soldiers, and their walk preceded about 50 hikes planned by Jewish settlers Friday in the West Bank.
Lawmaker Benny Begin, the son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, told The Associated Press he was hiking to protest stoning attacks on Jews and to stress there was an important historic link between Israel and the West Bank.
″A Jew can walk on any trail in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York,″ Begin said. ″It is discrimination against Jews to say that in these areas only Arabs can live and walk freely, free from stones, knives and firebombs.″
The 90-minute hike went without incident except for an illegal Palestinian flag unfurled in the nearby village of Kunya after the legislators passed through.