West Bank Palestinians say the Israeli expulsions of 20 Arabs will prove counterproductive. Israeli authorities Monday deported eight Palestinians and ordered the expulsion of 12 others in the latest clampdown against the four-month uprising in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
``This is the way they are escalating their effort to abort the uprising,'' says Dr. Mahdi Abdul-Hadi, president of the Palestinian Society for the Study of International Affairs. ``But it is building a broader national consensus behind the local leadership.''
``[The expulsions] didn't come as a surprise to any of us; the only surprise is that it took them so long to do it,'' says Mahar Abukhater, managing editor of Al-Fajr, an English-language Palestinian weekly.
Mr. Abukhatar notes that mass arrest of Palestinians (Israelis say 4,800; Palestinians say 20,000) since December and the expulsion of four last January have done nothing to quell the unrest which Tuesday claimed its 143rd Arab life.
``The leadership is in prison yet there are still demonstrations, still leaflets being produced, still someone leading the uprising. If they deport 20, 100, or 1,000 more it still won't change much,'' he says.
Six of the Arabs under deportation orders are from Beita, where Arab villagers and Jewish settlers clashed last Wednesday, leaving two Arabs and one Jew dead.
The government had been under heavy pressure from the settler community and right-wing politicians to retaliate for the Beita incident, especially after a preliminary Army report shifted the blame from Arab villagers to Roman Aldubi, one of two armed settlers guarding the Jewish group, for the death of Jewish teen-ager Tirza Porat.
But Israeli press reports indicate the eight deportations had been planned before the Beita incident but were postponed because of the visit of United States Secretary of State George Shultz last week.
In addition to the deportations, Israel has recently stepped up mass arrests. The Israeli Army has also been more aggressive in quashing demonstrations.
Many Palestinians expect further measures, possibly including an extended shutdown of Palestinian newspapers and research institutions.
According to report in the Hebrew daily Haaretz defense officials are investigating ways to shorten the time between the announcement and implementation of future expulsions.
Under current procedures there have been delays of up to several months and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has expressed a desire to change them.
The international community, including the United States, has condemned the deportations as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
Israel says the convention only prohibits mass expulsions and justifies Monday's measures as necessary.
``We know that other countries... are not happy with this, but we have to take care of our security and not them,'' Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said.
In a related development the Army's deputy chief of staff told Israeli reporters yesterday that Army reserve duty, which Israeli men incur until the age of 54, would be lengthened from 40 to 62 days unrest.
Gen. Ehud Barak said five times more soldiers are now on duty in the territories than at this time last year and that the uprising has cost the Army ``tens of millions'' of dollars so far.