Beset by a string of stabbings and renewed unrest in its occupied territories, Israel said it would deport from the Gaza Strip four Palestinian activists who the army blamed for much of the violence.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday orders of expulsion were issued against Jamal Abu Habal, 32, Mu'ein Muha-mad Maslam, 30, Ha'shem Ali Dahlan, 30, and Jamal Abu Jadyan, 32."All four are senior activists in the Fatah organization in the Gaza Strip and are among the primary organizers of violent activity in this organization," an army statement said.

In Gaza, the deportation order sparked more rioting Sunday. Palestinian leaders condemned the Israeli order, the first since the beginning of the gulf war.