Arab shot after Tel Aviv stabbings

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The Independent Online
ISLAMIC JIHAD, a small but extreme militant group in the Israeli occupied territories, yesterday claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack in the centre of Tel Aviv, in which four people were wounded before the attacker was shot dead.

A statement issued by the group in Beirut said the attack was: 'In revenge for the Zionist enemy's heinous crime of deporting the strugglers.'

Fakhry al-Dahdouh, aged 23, a Palestinian from Gaza City, was shot dead by a civil guardsman after charging down a street stabbing people in the back. While Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is the dominant Islamic movement in the occupied territories, Islamic Jihad is reported to be growing in influence and is more feared by Israeli security forces.

The attack, though limited, is precisely the kind of episode guaranteed to raise the level of fear in Israel, and to raise new questions about the value of the mass deportation a month ago, which has brought new tension and violence. Troops shot and wounded eight Palestinians in clashes in the Gaza Strip yesterday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said yesterday it had reached an agreement with Israel to take medical supplies to the deportees and to evacuate nine Palestinians expelled by mistake.

Tomorrow the Israeli Supreme Court will be asked to overturn the deportations on the grounds that they are contrary to international and Israeli law.

The outcome of the case could influence whether the United Nations Security Council, which has condemned the deportations, draws up a sanctions resolution against Israel. On Thursday the US Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, warned Israel that it must resolve the row or face increasing pressure for sanctions. However, last week, Douglas Hurd, the British Foreign Secretary, said he was against a sanctions resolution, hinting that Britain would veto such a measure in the Security Council.

It seems more likely that a compromise will be reached whereby some deportees may be allowed back, and others may have their two-year exile reduced. No human rights lawyers in Israel or the occupied territories had any faith in a reversal of the deportation order by the court.

In the court, lawyers will emphasise the arbitrariness of the arrests. The exact number of deportees is still not known. Originally Israel said there were 418. Early on, 35 were brought back and the government said it was deporting another 32. This brought the total to 415. However the list given to the Red Cross had only 413 names on it. The camp residents put the number at 412. Furthermore, the deportees say there is a mismatch between 15 of the names given by Israel to the Red Cross and their own camp census. Many families still do not know if their relatives are among the deportees or among the 1,600 arrested at the same time.

About half the deportees are imams - prayer leaders, religious scholars or sharia (Islamic law) judges. These include Sheikh Hamed al-Baitawi, head of the Palestine Religious Scholars Association; an imam at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jersualem, and a West Bank sharia judge.

At least 15 of the deportees are university professors, including the president of Gaza Islamic University. About 27 are teachers, staff and students from the university. Fourteen of the deportees are medical doctors, and 16 are on the staff of the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees. The rest are schoolteachers, businessmen, students or manual workers.

Most of the deportees support the activities and political views of Hamas, but deny a formal affiliation with the body.