Israeli security forces sealed up the homes of two West Bank families and forcibly moved them and their possessions to abandoned refugee camps near Jericho after youths in the family were implicated in attacks on army vehicles, the occupation military government confirmed today.
It was the first time that Israeli authorities have used the derelict refugee camps -- left over from the 1948 flood of Arab refugees to the West Bank -- as a place of collective banishment of families with members implicated in active resistance to the Israeli occupation.
The families were placed in crumbling mud-brick houses in the camps and ordered to submit their identity cards to authorities to have their addresses changed. They were warned that they may not leave the camps without permission of the military government.
The families today began a hunger strike, protesting that their new homes have no electricity or water and are "fit only for scorpions."
An official of the West Bank military government said, "Perhaps there is no electricity, but this also is part of the punishment. This is to warn West Bank parents that they are responsible for their children. It is to warn these people we are not going to sit quiet while we are attacked."
Military authorities were holding one son from each family on suspicion of throwing stones or gasoline-filled bottles at Israeli Army vehicles near Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank.
One of the youths, Tarik Yaakub Shumali, 17, was hospitalized for injuries his parents said he received while being beaten by Army troops after throwing rocks at a truck. His lawyer, Felicia Langer, produced a medical report saying Shumali had suffered multiple injuries, including a "traumatic rupture of the urethra," of urinary canal.
Military authorities said Shumali was injured when he fell into a ravine from his bicycle after stoning the truck.
After the stoning incident on Tuesday, Israeli border police appeared at the Shumali family home in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem. They cut the telephone lines and declared a curfew in the immediate neighborhood, according to a cousin, Bazal Shumali. He said security forces welded the doors of the home shut and loaded all of the family's furniture and belongings into a truck.
A sister of Tarik Shumaii was dismissed from her teaching job, and the family was transported to Ein Sultan, a 1948 refugee camp just north of Jericho that was abandoned in 1967.
Originally built by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for 20,000 Arab refugees who fled from the part of Palestine that was partitioned for the nascent state of Israel, Ein Sultan is now inhabited by only about 600 squatting families.
The agency makes no attempt to maintain the crudely built mud huts, many of whose roofs have collapsed, although it trucks in water for communal use by the families living there.
The camp has the appearance of a ghost town, with some of the houses used as goat pens by neighboring farmers.
Langer said today, "I can only say that if this type of thing continues, we shall face a new era in the West Bank . . . I feel all people of conscience will reject this step by the Israelis."
Georges Gallipeau, the U.N. agency's West Bank director, said he had reported the forced transfer to his headquarters in Vienna, but had no further comment.
The second family was moved from its home in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus after a son, Ahmed Mohammed Kaabi, 27, was arrested on a charge of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a passing Army vehicle earlier this month. The rear seat of the Army vehicle caught fire, and a soldier was hospitalized with hand and face burns. Kaabi was also accused of throwing rocks at the car of the Nablus military governor.
The Kaabi family and its furniture were trucked to the Okbat Jabar refugee camp south of Jericho, which also was abandoned in 1967 but now has about 2,000 people living in the derelict houses. The camp has a school operated by the U.N. agency, but it also lacks utilities.
While no military authorities would speak for attribution, an Army source who described himself as "authorized to comment for background" said the banishment of the two families was intended to warn Palestinians not to attack Army vehicles on West Bank roads.
He said the military government was also requiring parents to post bonds up to $1,200 for children suspected of stone-throwing, which is forfeited in case of subsequent arrest.
The official denied that the "transfers" represented a new policy. He said that in 1970 several West Bank political leaders were forced to move to new towns after being accused of incitement. But he conceded that this was the first time Arab families have been moved to abandoned refugee camps.