Tensions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip continued to rise today as Israeli security forces raided a girls' school here and arrested about 200 students for conducting an illegal demonstration. Army troops in Gaza welded shut the doors of 200 Arab shops in retaliation for a commercial strike.
The protests, along with scattered incidents throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, marked the beginning of a second month of virtually daily disturbances by Palestinians opposed to the imposition of a new civilian administration in the occupied territories' military government.
Staff members of the Ramallah Women's Training Center here, which is operated by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said Israeli soldiers burst into the school this morning after students raised a Palestinian flag and chanted nationalistic slogans.
In a statement, the school administration alleged that the Israeli soldiers were preceded by two civilians carrying cameras and claiming to be British photographers. The statement said that when the students noticed the men had weapons under their coats and surrounded them, the "cameramen" threw tear gas grenades and called in Army troops positioned outside. The Army immediately closed the approaches to the school.
School officials also charged that Israeli soldiers wrecked the school's kitchen and cafeteria, breaking windows and throwing food at the students. They said some students and the school's administrative director, Annan Anati, were beaten, and that the principal, Assia Habbash, was arrested along with 250 students.
A spokesman for the Israeli Army command said "about 200" students were taken to military government headquarters for questioning, but that most were expected to be released without being charged. The Army spokesman denied that soldiers beat students or wrecked the cafeteria, and said he had no information about civilians posing as cameramen.
Nearby, at the Kalendia refugee camp, two soldiers whose car was stoned opened fire, the Army spokesman confirmed. Stoning incidents were also reported in Nablus and near Bethlehem, and Palestinians conducted a sit-in protest at Bethlehem city hall.
Palestinian sources in Gaza said that 200 Arab shopkeepers had their steel shutters welded shut as punishment for participating in a commercial strike against the occupation, and that welding was continuing throughout the afternoon. The Gaza Strip town of Rafa, where a 16-year-old student was fatally shot by a soldier during a demonstration Monday, remained under curfew.