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June 09, 1989 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I UP FRONT

Studio In Harvard Row Mall

Israel

Continued from Page 5

The

independent Palestinian
state.
Armed vigilante groups
now patrol the roads of the
territories, stone Arab cars
and shoot up Arab towns and
villages to avenge attacks.
Some have declared that they
will fight the army itself if at-
tempts are made to halt their
actions.

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Last week, more than 30
Israelis were arrested follow-
ing a raid on the Arab village
of Kifl Harith, where settlers
threw a petrol bomb into a
house killing a 13-year-old
girl. They then set fire to
trees and crops, smashed win-
dows and shot up solar
heating panels on the roofs of
dwellings.
Defense Minister Yitzhak
Rabin described the incident
as a "violation of Israeli
values" and, anticipating an
expansion of settler violence
against the army, noted that
the security forces would be
augmented in order to deal
with "those who organize, in-
cite and perpetrate violent
acts against Israeli soldiers."
According to senior military
sources, the activities of the
settlers, some of whom have
physically attacked Israeli
soldiers when attempts were
made to restrain them, now
represent the most serious
challenge to the authority of
the army in the occupied
territories.
Moreover, there are growing
fears that their violent ac-
tions and use of weapons
could dramatically increase
the temperature in this
highly inflammable area and
persuade the Palestinians
that they have nothing to lose
by taking up arms.
Such an event would
radically change the terms of
the debate and place the con-
flict in an entirely new
dimension.
Nor is the malaise confined
to the zealous settlers in the
occupied territories; it has
found expression at the
highest level of public life in
Israel.
Trade Minister Ariel
Sharon has served notice that
he will challenge Shamir's
leadership over the peace in-
itiative, while Chief of Staff
Dan Shomron has come
under increasing, and un-
precedented, fire from right-
wing politicians, led by Gen.
Yehoshua Saguy, a former
head of military intelligence,
for his failure to deal decisive-
ly with the Palestinians.
In an interview with Israel
Radio at the weekend,
Shomron conceded that the
settlers were "shouldering a
large part of the struggle with
the Palestinians," but he also
warned that the army would

deal with anyone who "takes
the law into his own hands
and causes unnecessary harm
to local Arab residents."
The settlers have warned
that unless the army takes off
the gloves and brings the in-
tifada to a decisive conclu-
sion, they will do the job
themselves.
It is not an idle boast. Ze'ev
Schiff, a senior Israeli
military commentator, sound-
ed a chilling note: "The
Israeli Army," he wrote in the
Hebrew-laguage daily

Armed vigilante
groups now patrol
the roads.

Ha'aretz, "is on the verge of
losing control of the settlers."
The settlers had per-
petrated acts of vengeance
against the Arabs and were
now prepared, for the first
time, to "physically harm ar-
my officers who seek to pre-
vent them from carrying out
their illegal acts."
The army "is greatly con-
cerned by this development,"
he added. "There is no danger
of the army losing control
with regard to the Palestinian
uprising, but there is such a
danger where the settlers are
concerned."
The army confirmed late
last week that it was plann-
ing to act against vigilante
settlers by restricting their
movement, although no
specific steps have yet been
announced and no restric-
tions have been announced.
Any such action, however, is
likely only to harden the
resolve of the settlers and in-
tensify intra-communal
tensions.
To remove any doubt about
their response to restrictions
by the army, the settlers
reacted swiftly and angrily:
"Such moves should be
reserved for the enemy," said
one settler statement. "Lum-
ping Jews together with the
terrorist enemy is a grave
mistake. We will oppose it
with all our might."
Concern about the growing
tensions within Israeli socie-
ty, and the consequences of
Jewish settlers declaring all-
out war on the Palestinians,
has been expressed by all of
Israel's major newspapers.
An editorial in the
respected Hebrew-language
daily Ma'ariv, not noted for an
apocalyptic vision of the
world, warned bluntly: "The
rule of law is coming apart at
the seams . . . We stand on the
edge of the abyss and we must
save ourselves from
ourselves."
The paper pointed out that

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