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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 3, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 120

Unrest Spreads to Gaza

By Patricia Golan (VOA Al-Bireh, Gaza)

A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead in a clash between Israeli troops and Palestinians in Gaza. Violence also broke out again in the West Bank city of Hebron, where several Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets.

Reports say the confrontation in Gaza began when a group of about 200 Palestinians broke into a cultivated area near the Gush Katif settlement bloc, where bulldozers were leveling sand dunes.

Both Jewish settlers and Palestinians claim ownership of the disputed plot of land. Israeli soldiers opened fire, killing a 16-year-old Palestinian.

In another incident elsewhere in Gaza, Israeli soldiers uprooted tree saplings planted by Palestinians earlier in the day near the settlement of Morag. Soldiers destroyed a temporary structure on the site, which also is claimed by the Palestinians.

In Hebron, Israeli snipers on rooftops fired live ammunition at Palestinian rioters who were throwing stones and firebombs.

Israeli soldiers are guarding enclaves of Jewish settlers in parts of the city which was turned over to Palestinian control earlier this year. Troop reinforcements were brought in overnight after two Israeli soldiers were wounded by a home-made bomb thrown from a rooftop.

Palestinian police refuse to intervene to stop the riots. The Israeli government accuses the Palestinian authority of fanning the flames in order to escalate the violence.

The renewed violence in Hebron was triggered when an Israeli woman posted caricatures depicting the prophet Mohamed as a pig - an act denounced by the Israeli government. The woman is to be indicted today.

On Wednesday, a senior aide to Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat has complained that the United States has suspended its efforts at peacemaking.

The secretary of the Palestinian Cabinet, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, told a news conference in Al-Bireh in the West Bank, that the new secretary of state, Madeline Albright, seems to have other interests.

"It is very clear that there is an American withdrawal from its role for the peace process in the Middle East. Miss Albright thinks the Middle East is not the first priority of the American administration. She is more European than Mediterranean."

Abdel-Rahman says Egyptian efforts to revive peace talks have collapsed, and he blames Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not taking Egyptian efforts seriously. He repeated the Palestinian Authority's position that it will not restore cooperation between the security services, as demanded by the Israelis, or continue negotiations unless Israel stops settlement construction.

Netanyahu has still not succeeded in ending weeks of turmoil within his coalition. In a meeting Wednesday with Foreign Minister David Levy, he failed to reach an agreement that would prevent Levy from carrying out his threat to quit. The foreign minister complains he is being left out of political decision-making.

Abdel-Rahman says the fact that the Israeli government is preoccupied with its own internal problems means it is not able to take any decisions. He warns that the West Bank and Gaza are on the verge of an explosion as a result of the continuing stalemate.

In Whom Do We Trust?

A survey carried out by the Histadrut's Consumer Protection Administration has found that journalists inspire the least amount of trust among the public. On a scale of 1 to 10, journalists rated a 5. Next lowest were car mechanics, with 5.2, and insurance agents, who received a score of 5.3. Most-trusted were family doctors, with a 8.3 rating. Dentists were next with 7.8, and teachers in third place, trusted at a 7.5 rate.

Hong Kong's Jewish Community

The Hong Kong Jewish community believes they will have no problem living Jewish lives under Chinese rule, and say they do not currently suffer anti-Semitism and have little problem with assimilation. They are, however, concerned that their businesses may suffer.

Foreign Ministry officials said that, as a result of the warm Sino-Israeli relationship, they are not expecting a dramatic change in the new government's attitude toward Hong Kong Jewry. The British Desk of the Jewish Agency said that some Hong Kong Jews have expressed interest in immigration to Israel should conditions deteriorate.

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