Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said rock-throwing protesters have failed to accomplish the goals of the Palestinian uprising, prompting some Arab activists to return to grenade attacks.
Grenades were thrown from the same spot in Gaza City Tuesday night and Wednesday, slightly wounding two soldiers in the first attack. A grenade also was thrown at an army patrol last week in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.The defense minister said Wednesday that the grenade attacks revealed the activists' "failure to create a number of violent incidents by simple means, and the beginning by a small group to return to terror."
"Once they shifted from civilian violence to terror, for me it was a clue they had failed to achieve their goals by what they call the `intifada,' " Rabin told foreign reporters, using the Arab word for uprising.
Rabin said in the 10 months of the "intifada" the army had been able to reduce the number of large violent demonstrations by rock-throwing protesters and also cut the number of Molotov cocktail attacks.
The minister said attacks on soldiers and civilians with guns and bombs had virtually ceased since the uprising began Dec. 9.
For the most part, Palestinians have refrained from using guns or explosives against Israeli troops. One Israeli soldier was fatally shot in Bethlehem, but protesters have primarily used rocks and Molotov cocktails to avoid gunbattles with better-equipped Israeli troops and retain world sympathy for their cause.
Rabin also predicted that the level of violence would subside after the U.S. and Israeli elections in November, and repeated his warning that violence against Israelis or Palestinians would not force Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.