Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Monday hotly defended Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, condemning the weekend slaying of a settler in the West Bank as "another link in the chain of blood."
Accusing Palestinian Arabs of the stabbing death of Friedrich Rosenfeld, 48, an American-born resident of the settlement of Ariel, Shamir called the killing an act of "murderers and rioters who believe that by these actions they will put an end to our settlements and our existence."
Declaring that Israeli soldiers will put down the 18-month-old Palestinian uprising "with an iron fist," the prime minister, according to an Israel Radio report, vowed to a meeting of industrialists in Tel Aviv that "Samaria is ours."
Focal Points of Uprising
Samaria and Judea are the biblical names by which Israelis identify the territories on the West Bank of the Jordan River that they occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War. Jewish settlements in the area have become focal points of the uprising, islands in a sea of Palestinians whose inhabitants have taken the brunt of stoning attacks on cars and buses. In recent weeks, the settlers have come under political fire here for retaliating and intimidating with vigilante raids on Arab villages.
The issue was stirred further last month when U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III called on Israelis who back the settler movement to abandon their vision of a greater Israel, one that would include the West Bank.
Rosenfeld emigrated to Israel from Washington in 1968, according to officials of Ariel settlement. Before moving to the settlement, south of Nablus, he had been an editor of technical journals in Tel Aviv.
Stab Wound in Chest
According to accounts of the settlers, he had been missing since Friday night. His body, with a stab wound in the chest, was found Sunday on a hilltop outside Ariel by Arab shepherds who alerted Israeli authorities. A pair of binoculars was found with the body, along with Rosenfeld's empty pistol holster.
Israeli soldiers immediately flooded the area Sunday, and Israel Radio reported Monday evening that 30 suspects have been taken into custody. The radio report said Rosenfeld had apparently been hiking in a hilly area between two Palestinian villages.
Here in Jerusalem, members of the settlers movement Monday blocked an entryway to the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, to protest the killing. Knesset guards dispersed them after a brief melee.
Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman accused Israeli politicians and military commanders of encouraging Arab attacks by what he called a failure to enforce tough security regulations.
Nachman has taken a high profile in the settler issue, most recently by proposing that Arab laborers in Ariel wear badges identifying them as foreign workers. He withdrew the proposal in the face of complaints that it smacked of the Nazi German requirement that Jews wear the Star of David on their clothing.
By unofficial count, Rosenfeld was the 23rd Israeli killed in the intifada , the Palestinian uprising.