JERUSALEM, JAN. 14 -- Israel today cracked down on the Palestinian press, detaining five journalists, including a prominent newspaper editor once endorsed as a delegate in Middle East peace talks.
The press clampdown came a day after the controversial deportation to Lebanon of four Palestinians accused of inciting the protest demonstrations that began Dec. 9 in opposition to Israel's 20-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Both moves appeared part of Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin's policy of using military force and other tough measures to reestablish calm in the occupied territories, which passed a relatively calm day despite a continuing general strike in much of the West Bank and curfews at 13 refugee camps.
For the first time since Jan. 7, military sources reported no deaths directly connected with the disturbances today, although a 30-year-old shepherd died from apparently accidental injuries suffered when he inadvertently wandered onto an Army firing range on the West Bank.
Israeli journalists suggested that the clampdown's aim was to shut off news from the occupied territories, which the Israeli-censored Palestinian press often passed on to Israeli and foreign reporters.
At the same time, however, persistent unconfirmed reports also suggested that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' wing of the coalition government was using Palestinian journalists as sounding boards and conduits to the still shadowy figures now directing the demonstrations and protests.
By far the best-known journalist detained today was Hanna Siniora, editor-in-chief of the East Jerusalem daily Al Fajr, who in 1985 was accepted by Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the United States as a potential Palestinian delegate to peace talks -- which eventually fell through.
He was questioned for five hours about his recent call for Palestinians to boycott Israeli cigarettes and soft drinks -- which gained little support -- and released on a $1,300 bond.
Also released were Ibrahim Karain, owner of the Palestine Press Service, which disseminates news about the occupied territories, and Ghassan Ayoub, not a journalist but spokesman of the Palestinian Hotel Workers' Union.
Still in custody, facing more serious charges of belonging to the outlawed PLO, were Mohammed Zahaika, who worked for Al Fajr; Salah Zuhaika, deputy editor of the daily Shaab, and former Fajr editor Abdul Latif Ghaith.
Zuhaika's home was raided at 2 a.m., and for the next two hours agents of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security agency, broke furniture, tore up photographs and left the premises in a mess, according to his family and witnesses.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, authorities detained Dr. Zakaria Agha, chairman of the Medical Association; Fayez Abu Rahmeh, chairman of the Gaza Bar Association, and another lawyer, Khalid Kidra; and Dr. Abdel Shafi, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent, an Islamic counterpart to the Red Cross. All were released several hours later.
The detentions appeared designed to prevent their attendance at an East Jerusalem news conference, at which a 14-point statement was distributed calling for removing restrictions on political contacts with the PLO.
The occasion also marked the first time that major, older, middle-of-the-road members of the Palestinian establishment had succeeded in overcoming differences to act together in backing standard PLO demands.
The statement also demanded that Israel stop deportations, honor the 1949 Geneva Convention protecting civilians under military occupation, release all prisoners arrested since Dec. 9, lift the "siege" of all Palestinian refugee camps, stop land confiscation and cancel various taxes.
Meanwhile, U.N. Undersecretary General Marrack Goulding paid a quiet visit to the Dehaishe refugee camp on the West Bank. Few Israeli troops were present. In previous days, violence broke out at camps he visited and U.N. officials blamed the heavy presence of Israeli troops. Israeli authorities had blamed the outbreaks on Goulding's presence.