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Israel said yesterday it would deport four Palestinian activists from the occupied Gaza Strip, a decision likely to draw strong condemnation from the United States as it embarks on a Middle East peace drive. An Army statement said deportation orders had been issued against four Gazan activists accused of fomenting violence and being members of the mainstream Fatah group of the banned Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

A Palestinian revolt against Israeli rule erupted in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank in December 1987, steered mainly by a unified leadership affiliated with the PLO.

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The US and the United Nations have condemned Israel for exiling Palestinians from their native land.

Three of the men to be exiled were sentenced to long prison terms in the past and released in 1985 in an exchange deal with the Syria-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command headed by Ahmad Jibril.

The Army identified the four Gazans as:

Jamal Yassin Hassan Abu Habal of Jabalya refugee camp. He was released in 1985 while serving a 15-year sentence for throwing a grenade at an Army outpost.

Muin Mohammed Maslan and Hashan Mohammed Ali Dahlan, also of Jabalya refugee camp. Both were released in 1985 while serving life sentences for throwing hand grenades.

Hamal Abed Rabu Mohammed Abu Jadyan from Beit Lahiya village. He was sentenced to 10 years in 1979 for setting explosives in the southern town of Ashdod.

The men have the right to appeal against the expulsion orders to the Israeli Supreme Court. But the process could drag on for a year and courts in the past have always backed the military.

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