In the face of State Department criticism of the revival of security measures in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities have arrested four Palestinian college students there without charges under "administrative detention" and have moved to deport seven Palestinians freed in a May prisoner exchange, security officials said today.
Israeli officials said that despite the U.S. criticism of the renewed use of deportations and indefinite administrative detention, those and other measures will be used to combat Arab terrorism in the occupied territories and in Israel.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, touring the West Bank today, told reporters, "I'm sorry that they [U.S. officials] are sorry. We will continue to do all we find necessary to ensure security for the Arab inhabitants who wish to live in peace, and security for the Jewish inhabitants. We will fight terror without any playing around, and we will maintain law and order."
Rabin said the government "will search for ways, including administrative detentions and deportation, against those who actively agitate for terrorist acts and disturbances." He said that the government preferred not to use those measures but that the burden was on peaceful Arabs to "gain control and prevent any terrorist activity or disturbances."
The State Department, reacting to Sunday's Cabinet decision to impose a crackdown in the occupied territories, said yesterday that it deplored the violence that led to the decision, but added, "Nevertheless, we regret the Cabinet's decision and hope that these measures will not be implemented. As we've said in the past, we consider such measures as likely to foster further tensions."
The Army command said that the four students held under administrative detention, all students at An Najah University in Nablus, were local leaders of the Fatah wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
On Friday, security forces closed An Najah for two months following a search conducted after an Israeli was shot to death on a Nablus street by an Arab gunman. Authorities said the search uncovered quantities of written material inciting to terrorism.
An Army spokesman charged that for months the university has been under the control of student unions fronting for Palestinian liberation groups and that "the official university administration serves as a pawn in their hands, lacking any real control over university affairs."
However, Palestinian nationalist sources in the West Bank, who asked that they not be identified, charged that the closing of An Najah and the arrests of the student leaders was designed to thwart student elections scheduled for this weekend in which nationalistic candidates had a clear edge, and that the ultimate goal of the Israeli government is the permanent closure of the university.
The seven Palestinians scheduled for deportation were among 1,150 Arab prisoners exchanged in May for three Israeli soldiers held by Ahmed Jibril's General Command faction.
A spokesman for the occupation government said the seven were being deported because they could not prove that they held residency permits before their original detentions.
However, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered a delay today in the deportation of one of the seven, Abdel Mujid Rudad, who in his appeal argued that his entire family lives in Tulkarm and that during his 17 years in Israeli prisons he repeatedly expressed regret over having engaged in terrorist activities.
Meanwhile, the state-run Israeli radio said today that a special investigating commission had recommended that Army Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Mordecai, the chief paratroop officer implicated in the deaths of two Palestinian hijackers after their capture in a bus in the Gaza Strip in April 1984, not be formally charged in the killings.
The radio said the investigating report contains no evidence directly linking Mordecai to the beating deaths, which occurred while the victims were in custody, but instead concludes that the officer was trying to save lives because when he interrogated the hijackers there was reason to suspect that live bombs may have been left in the bus.
Israeli radio said, however, that Mordecai and other officers involved in the case may be charged with excessive use of force.