Israelis Punish Suspected Firebombers

From Times Wire Services

The Israeli army Monday destroyed one house and sealed three others belonging to Palestinians suspected of throwing gasoline bombs at Israeli buses and army vehicles in the occupied territories.

Elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, at least 19 Palestinians were wounded by army gunfire on the second day of a three-day general strike, Palestinians sources said. The army had no information on the incidents.

The house demolition and sealings were the result of investigations by security forces that uncovered three West Bank groups allegedly engaged in anti-Israel activities, an army spokesman said.

Five Palestinians from Janin and an unspecified number from the village of Hawwara in the West Bank are suspected of hurling gasoline bombs at army vehicles, the spokesman said.

Authorities also uncovered five members of a group from the Jerusalem area who allegedly set fire to Israeli vehicles and threw gasoline bombs at an Israeli bus. They also are suspected of stealing a police officer's weapon and planning to kidnap and kill a soldier, the spokesman said.

The house of one suspect from Janin was destroyed and the house of a Hawwara suspect was sealed. In addition, two houses north of Jerusalem in Dachiyat el Barid were sealed, the spokesman said.

The army uses house demolitions and sealings to punish the families of Palestinians suspected of security offenses.

To prevent widespread violence during the longest general strike called since the start of the 14-month-old uprising, the army increased the number of troops in the territories and arrested dozens of suspected Palestinian activists.

Shops were closed and many workers stayed home in observance of the strike, which was called by the underground leadership directing the uprising.

On Monday, the army declared Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, a closed military zone and erected roadblocks at four entrances.

Troops stopped dozens of Arab-owned cars in the city and ordered the drivers to remove outlawed Palestinian flags and pro-Palestine Liberation Organization graffiti, an Arab reporter said.

In an Israeli military court in Gaza, four residents of the Bureij refugee camp were sentenced to prison terms of up to 19 years for throwing grenades at army patrols. The four Palestinian teen-agers also were accused of planning to throw gasoline bombs and to kill collaborators, Palestinian sources said.

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