Israeli Units Deployed In Bethlehem

Last night units of the Israeli army were deployed in Bethlehem, Palestine, and the nearby Arab settlement of Beit-Jalah. Tanks and bulldozers crushed several buildings in Bethlehem, after which the troops were pulled out. But Israelis remained in Beit-Jalah. The Israeli troops were deployed in Bethlehem and Beit-Jalah in reply to the shelling of the Gilo district of Jerusalem late on Thursday, the first one after a respite of six weeks. Nobody was injured and only several buildings sustained minor damage. The bulk of observers believe that the shelling of Gilo was Palestinians' reply to the Thursday murder of Atef Abayat, a commander of the Tanzim organisation. Abayat was put on the list of commanders whom Israel wanted arrested by the Palestine National Authority for terrorist activities. After the murder of Abayat on Thursday evening, a crowd of outraged Palestinians gathered at the Bethlehem prison, demanding that local residents, who were kept in the prison on suspicion of collaboration with the Israeli special services, be turned over to them. In late August Israeli army units were deployed in Beit-Jalah to stop the shelling of Gilo, which continued since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada. There had been no shooting since then and until Thursday October 18.

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