Palestinian Dies, Militants Smash Monument To Arab Soldiers
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A 15-year-old Palestinian died today of head wounds suffered in a clash with troops, and assailants believed to be Jewish militants smashed a monument to Arab soldiers in east Jerusalem.
Mayor Teddy Kollek called the vandals in the capital’s Arab sector ″idiots″ and expressed concern that their action might lead to retaliation by Arab militants and further fuel tensions in the city.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, merchants began a seven-day commercial strike after pro-PLO leaders of the Palestinian uprising called for the move in slogans painted on walls.
The strike is to protest the Israeli collection of taxes from Palestinians. Non-payment of taxes is a major tactic of the revolt against Israel rule.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv said today the PLO has foiled Israeli efforts to block its funding of the uprising by using Israeli-Arab businessmen, international organizations and ultra-Orthodox Jews to transfer money.
Mohammed Yaub Salhoub, 15, died early today at Mukassed Hospital in east Jerusalem, a day after being shot in the head by troops during clashes in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip, hospital officials said.
The army confirmed the death but said it was checking the circumstances.
The death brought to 352 the number of Palestinians killed in the 13-month uprising. Fifteen Israelis have also died in the unrest.
The monument to soldiers of the Arab Legion outside the Rockefeller Museum was partially smashed, said police spokesman Alex Lapidot. He said police had no suspects.
An anonymous caller told Israel army radio the monument was damaged by ″lovers of the land of Israel and the Jewish people.″
The caller said the attack was carried out to protest the dismantling by troops two days ago of a monument erected by Jewish settlers in honor of an Israeli taxi driver slain in the West Bank.
Settlers have vowed to erect additional monuments to Jews killed in the occupied lands in defiance of an army ban.
″The people who did this are stupid, they are idiots,″ said Kollek. He said the city would offer to repair the monument.
Police imposed a curfew in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood after they arrested 14 people, including nine said to be firebomb throwers.
It was only the third time a curfew was clamped on a Jerusalem neighborhood during the uprising. Curfews are a frequent measure of control and punishment in the occupied lands.
In a newspaper interview published today, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir accused the United States of prolonging the uprising by opening a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization last month.
″It gave a great push and great encouragement to people who perhaps had reached a point where they were considering desisting from this way (the uprising),″ he was quoted as saying in the Jerusalem Post.
The United States ended a 13-year ban on contacts with the PLO after its chief, Yasser Arafat, last month renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist.
The Maariv newspaper and Palestinian journalists said the closing of Arab banks and limits put on money Palestinians can bring into Israel have not halted PLO funding of the uprising.
Maariv said a fringe group of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who believe the state of Israel cannot exist until the coming of the Messiah, transfer money to Palestinian activists, but demand a 25 percent fee for religious seminaries.
It said Arab public figures from northern Israel and Israeli-Arab businessmen belonging to the Islamic Opposition Movement have pumped millions of dollars into the uprising by laundering money through legitimate businesses.
Also today, Palestinian notables considered moderates confirmed they met earlier this week in Jerusalem with leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby in Washington that has spearheaded the fight to block the PLO’s diplomatic gains.
The meeting took place at the Jerusalem residence of U.S. Consul Philip Wilcox and also included PLO supporters, said one of the participants, West Bank lawyer Jonathan Kuttab.
Kuttab said such meetings are useful because only staunch supporters of Israel, such as AIPAC, could eventually persuade Israeli leaders to drop their resistance to talks with the PLO.
″The only people who can change Israel’s views are friends like AIPAC,″ he said. ″Criticism from any other source could reinforce Israel’s paranoia and fears.″