JERUSALEM, DEC. 21 -- The rioting that has wracked the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for nearly two weeks spread today to Arab areas inside Israel's borders as most of the country's Arab citizens staged a massive general strike in sympathy with their Palestinian brethren.

Three more Palestinians died in the West Bank and 22 were injured in incidents of violence, according to Israeli military authorities, who also confirmed that another Palestinian died yesterday at an Israeli hospital. That brought the official death count to 19 and injuries to at least 150 in what now is clearly the most widespread civil violence to hit Israel and the territories since the occupation began 20 years ago.

But today's new dimension was the Arab labor strike inside Israel, which triggered incidents of stone-throwing and tire-burning in parts of the country -- including Nazareth, Jaffa, Lod, Ramle and Abu Ghosh -- that generally have been peaceful for decades.

For the Israeli government, which has long held that its 750,000 Arab citizens are productive and reasonably contented members of this society, it raised the specter of a united front of Palestinians on both sides of Israel's "green line," the border that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Like the rioting that hit Arab East Jerusalem over the weekend, some of today's clashes occurred in areas very close to major Jewish population centers. So far they have been largely untouched by the violence, although many Jewish businesses have been affected by the lack of Arab workers who usually do lower-paying or menial jobs.

"It's going to be taken much more seriously after today," said a Foreign Ministry official about the rioting, "because when it starts inside Israel it takes on a whole different dimension."

Tonight it was reported that a busload of armed Jewish ultranationalists, supporters of anti-Arab Knesset member Meir Kahane, sought to enter Shefaram, an Arab village outside Haifa where Arab leaders met last week to approve today's walkout. They were repulsed by police and several reportedly were arrested.

Reflecting Jewish anger at the Israeli Arabs, Haim Kaufman, leader of the Knesset faction of the Likud, the rightist partner in Israel's coalition government, said portions of the Galilee region, center of Israel's Arab population, should be placed back under the military rule that operated there until 1966.

Other officials rejected that step as too drastic, but conceded the strike added a new and potentially dangerous element to the violence in the occupied areas. "It was almost dying two or three days ago. . . . Unfortunately, because of this strike by Israeli Arabs it caught fire again," said an aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. "So it will take a few more days before we will be able to restore peace to all of the areas."

But a military official, speaking not for attribution, was less sanguine about how long it might take to restore order. Noting that hundreds of Palestinian youths had blocked main roads in the West Bank and Gaza today and shut down the areas almost completely, the official said, "I can't remember that kind of thing ever happening before. We're taking it very very seriously and we are reassessing how to handle the situation."

The Army gave some signs that it might take tougher action. An Army spokesman told Reuter that "the relative restraint the Army has shown has been misinterpreted as weakness." Starting Tuesday, he said, the military would "act with more determination. We will increase the use of administrative measures such as detentions, curfews and expulsions."

{State Department sources said yesterday that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering had met in the past few days with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to express U.S. concern about an excessive Israeli use of force in seeking to curb Palestinian violence in Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied territories, staff writer David B. Ottaway reported in Washington. Without referring specifically to the Pickering-Shamir meeting, State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said the United States had been in touch "with the highest levels of the Israeli government" regarding the situation.

{"They assure us that they are doing everything possible to avoid further casualties," she said.

{She said a 1982 travel advisory for U.S.citizens traveling to Jerusalem and the West Bank was still in effect but gave no indication other warnings or restrictions were being placed on Americans going to those areas.}

Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij announced tonight that he was canceling his annual Christmas Eve reception for foreign diplomats and Israeli officials and a Christmas Day parade because of the violence, the first time he has done so in 16 years as mayor.

There were no complete statistics on today's walkout, but Israeli officials conceded that most of Israel's 170,000 Arab workers stayed away from their jobs. They joined more than 100,000 Arabs from the occupied areas who usually travel daily to jobs inside Israel but who have been on strike for several days.

The strikers are seeking an end to the military presence inside Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and the release of several thousand Arabs they consider political prisoners. Schools, public transportation and shops were shut down throughout the occupied areas.

Israeli hotels, restaurants and cleaning companies have all been affected by the strike, as have construction companies.

There were dozens of stone-throwing incidents in East Jerusalem, and rioters in Nazareth engaged in stone-throwing and tire-burning aimed at police, who fired tear gas and arrested at least eight. Several were beaten by police after their arrest, according to reporters at the scene.

The Army said that two young Palestinians were killed in Toubas, a village near the West Bank town of Jenin, after a group of youths hurled firebombs at an Israeli military patrol, which then opened fire. Earlier in the day a group of border police shot dead one demonstrator and wounded four others who attacked the group in Jenin, according to an Army spokesman.

A 22-year-old Palestinian wounded at a Gaza refugee camp 12 days ago died yesterday, the Army said. There were also violent clashes today in East Jerusalem, at Fara refugee camp and in the village of Kalkilya in the West Bank, and in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.