Plight of Israeli Deportees Sparks Protest
MARJ AL-ZOHOUR, LEBANON
PALESTINIAN deportees huddled under heavy rain in their tents yesterday as Lebanon rejected new appeals by a United Nations relief agency to allow food, water, and medical supplies into their makeshift camp in south Lebanon.
The 415 deportees said the Israeli Supreme Court's rejection of an appeal for their repatriation could mean a two-year stay in the camp erected Friday in a no man's land between Lebanese and Israeli Army positions in the snow-covered region.
Israel left the Palestinians in the no man's land north of its "security zone" in Lebanon last week.
The deportees are suspected members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two Muslim fundamentalist factions, which killed five Israeli soldiers in a week this month and which have vehemently opposed the peace talks launched in October last year.
The UN Security Council demands that Israel take them back. UN Assistant Secretary-General James Jonah is to fly to Israel soon to try to break the deadlock over the deportees.
Lebanon, adamant not to become a dumping ground for Palestinians expelled from Israel, on Tuesday banned all aid to the deportees, insisting that Israel was responsible for their fate and should provide all relief.
A five-vehicle convoy assembled by the UN Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees, was parked at the Lebanese Army's most advanced position in Marj al-Zohour after it had been denied passage on Tuesday. Hussein Abu Koweit, in charge of the deportees' supplies, said they had run out of meat. Unrest in Gaza
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers firing live and plastic bullets wounded 41 Palestinians during clashes that erupted in the Gaza Strip yesterday after Israel lifted some restrictions on movement there, hospital sources said. Unrest has surged since last Thursday's deportations.
Soldiers clashed with stone-throwers several times in Gaza City yesterday. In one case, about 500 demonstrators were marching in solidarity with the deportees.
Israel kept more than 300,000 Gazans under curfew yesterday, military and Palestinian sources said. It has lifted the curfew for about 450,000 Gazans, and Tuesday it allowed some of them into Israel for the first time in over two weeks.
Many Palestinians in the West Bank observed a strike for the seventh straight day to protest the unprecedented mass expulsion. Palestinians and Israeli troops also clashed in Ramallah and Jenin in the West Bank but no one was hurt.