Police used batons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters yesterday who stoned passing cars and burned tires and garbage trolleys to protest a 50 to 100 percent hike in food prices and a slash in government food subsidies.
Police said there were several injuries on each side and at least 17 demonstrators, who tied up traffic and caused property damage, shouted "Begin, go home," and "Down with price hikes and [Jewish] settlements!" when confronted by police.
The protests, which took place simultaneously yesterday in five different Jerusalem locations, were organized by the Israeli Black Panthers, a militant group of Oriental Jews pressing for economic equality.
The demonstrations coincided with the start of a Knesset (parliament) debated on the economic measures approved Monday that are designed to curb Israeli's 150 percent annual inflation rate.
The debate was put off today after lawmakers defeated three no-confidence motions over plans by Prime Minister Menachem Begin's coalition government to expel Nablus Mayor Bassam Shaka and boost Jewish settlement in the West Bank at a cost of $4.7 billion.
Shaka, 48, has been on a hunger strike in an Israeli jail since Friday to protest his detention and threatened expulsion. His wife appealed the deportation order and a High Court of Justice hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Begin, responding to an appeal from U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, said the matter is before the Israeli Supreme Court. He also said the deportation resulted from Shaka's support of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank.
The military government, meanwhile, gave back to Arab landowners today 30 acres of the outlawed Jewish settlement of Elon Moreh just east of Nablus.
Israeli troops removed tents and a fence set on the disputed acreage, ordering the settlers to move to the remaining 145 acres of the outpost, a military spokesman said. The government has given the settlers up to six weeks to vacate the rest of the site.
The High Court's Oct. 22 order applied only to the 30 acres owned by Arabs who brought the suit against Elon Moreh, but in spirit it was meant to apply to the entire 175 acres, Israeli legal experts said.
But leaders of the settlers' Gush Emunim movement have not yet decided if they will leave and take up residence on a new site nearby. Government officials have said they will use force if the settlers do not leave Elon Moreh peacefully.
Settlers leader Beni Katsover said the Gush Emunim leadership was meeting government ministers and Knesset members to discuss adoption of new laws that would enable Jewish settlers to take Arab land anywhere in the West Bank.