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Indifada Revival in Palestine?

By Hans Lebrecht, in People's Weekly World,
1 July 1995, pg. 14

TEL-AVIV - The killing of two Palestinian students and the wounding of dozens of others in riots caused by the Israeli Occupation forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, when soldiers attacked peaceful marches in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, are said~by many observers here to be a warning that the popular uprising, the Intifada, may flare up again.

Palestinian leaders, including from Arafat's PLO, and Israeli peace activists warn that the Intifada may be resumed if the deadline ofJuIy 1 for starting the long-overdue withdrawal of Israel's forces from the West Bank is not rnet, and if the 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners are not released. The July 1 target for starting Israel's withdrawal from parts of the West Bank was promised by Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres at a meeting two months ago with Palestinian National Authority (PNA) chair Yasser Arafat.

The demonstrators, majority of whom belong to Arafat's PIO and el-Fatah organizations, shouted slogans against the Israeli oppressors, and also against Arafat, accusing him of being too lenient towards Israeli infringements of the Oslo accord.

The hunger strike of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, jails and detainment camps, started June I8. Out of the 6,300 prisoners, over 4,500 joined the hunger strike.

On June 23, almost the entire Palestinian population in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem answered a call by the PLO, PNA and the fundamentalist Islamic Hamas for a general strike in solidariry with the hunger-strikers. On June 24 hundreds of Palestinians, men and worn, marched through the Salah-a-Din main srreet in occupied East Jerusalem. When the demonstration approached the OId-City-Walls, they were confronted by police~and border guard- units which attacked them with clubs and tear-gas.

The demonstrators were pushed into the street in which the Jerusalem headquarters of the PLO is situated. They were ambushed from ahead and behind by police forces, swinging truncheons and firing tear gas and gunshots into the crowd. Twentythree Palestinians, among them pregnant women and youths, were hospitalized in East Jerusalem's Mukassa hospital.

Clashes occurred throughout the West Bank. The worst occurred in Nablus where two students of A-Najah University were killed by sharp--shooting occupation troopers. Some 110 Palestlnians, mostly students and other youth, were hospitalized.

The hunger strikers issued a call to the public, published in Hebrew, which said, We call upon the Israeli people with conscience and vision of a happy future for both our peoples in peace, justice and good neighborly friendship . . Let us act in common and with responsibility, in order not to destroy the big hope we aII nurtured with the beginning of the peace process, and that we can break out of the vicious circle which cost both our peoples so many blood sacrifices.

A member of the Bureau of the Palestinian People's Party, Ghazan el-Khateeb, told the World that the hunger-strike put pressure on the PLO and PNA to answer the prisoners' demand for their long overdue release. Arafat has decided to support the prisoners' cause and has put the issue on the agenda of the present talks with Israel.

At a press conference Hadash Member of the Knesset (MK) Hashem Mahameed said that, after repeated visits to many of the prisons in which Palestinian security detainees are incarcerated, Hadash has tabled a motion in the Knesset to force the government to release them.

The local Tel-Aviv branches of the Communist Party of Israel and the Hadash Front, with mainly Jewish membership, mounted a vigil in front of the main gate of the Defense Ministry in Tel-Aviv. Solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisonersKeeping the Palestinian prisoners incarcerated violates the Oslo accordsFreedom and peace for the Palestinian prisoners and for us Isrealis read some of the placards held by the vigil participants.