Israeli troops sealed the borders of the occupied territories Wednesday in an effort to curb a wave of bloody revenge attacks by Arabs and Jews.
An order from Defense Minister Moshe Arens banned the nearly 1.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from entering Israel.Late Tuesday, police accompanied Gaza-bound cars carrying some of the estimated 100,000 Palestinian workeers in Israel.
"The consideration that brought it about was to try to defuse the tension and pacify the wave of violence," said Defense Ministry spokesman Dan Naveh.
He said the order would "last for several days only" and should not seriously affect the troubled Israeli economy.
Police Minister Roni Milo instructed officers "not to hesitate to open fire in response to attempts to cause harm or endanger the lives of civilians or security personnel," Israeli Television said.
A series of intercommunal attacks have folowed the Oct.8 police shooting of 19 Palestinians on Jerusalem's sacred Temple Mount during a riot by Arabs who were throwing stones down on Jews praying at the Western Wall.
Only hours before Arens' order on Tuesday, Israeli civilians fired on an Arab-owned car in the southern Negev desert, killing Maher-al-Shaher, a 30-year-old Gaza laborer, and wounding his three cousins.
The army said the incident was being investigated by police.
The attack was claimed by a previously unknown underground group, "Eye for an Eye," in phone calls to Israeli Television and radio.
Meanwhile, clandestine leaflets urged Arabs to set up attacks on Jews and praised as a "hero" a Palestinian who on Sunday fatally stabbed a woman soldier, a gardener and an off-duty policeman in a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood.
"This is only the beginning," warned the leaflet.