Both Sides Claim West Bank Victory as Barricades Fall

Associated Press

The army took down the barricades around this Palestinian town today, ending 42 days of seizing cars, furniture and other goods to crush a tax boycott. Jubilant residents took to the streets to shout victory.

But as hundreds of townspeople waved "V" signs and sang, military authorities said they had succeeded in breaking the revolt, seizing the equivalent of more than $1.5 million to make up for unpaid taxes.

"We are always collecting taxes. We have always collected taxes. We are the authorities," said Brig. Gen. Shaike Erez, head of the West Bank military government.

Hanan Banura, a 25-year-old mother of two whose husband is in jail for refusing to pay taxes, said the town's defiance strengthened the 22-month-old Palestinian uprising against occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We won something here," she said. "We did what we wanted to do, not what they wanted."

The bulldozers that pushed away the earthen mound blocking off the Christian Arab town of 10,000 people ended Beit Sahur's unlikely role as a symbol of the revolt against occupation.

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