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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Forces 4 Aides Out of Gaza

JERUSALEM -- Israel said Wednesday that no officials linked to the Palestinian Authority would enter the self-rule areas of Gaza and Jericho until a Palestinian it wants expelled from there is removed.


Israel demanded that four Palestinians, including two it linked to a guerrilla attack in which 21 Israeli teenagers were killed, leave the Gaza Strip after they entered with PLO head Yasser Arafat on Tuesday.


Three left on Wednesday. The fourth was expected to leave later in the day.


"As long as all of the four who entered illegally are not outside the area, no officials of the Palestinian Authority," or PA, "will be allowed to come in," Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's spokesman said.


Oded Ben-Ami, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, said the incident undermined trust.


"Cheating on each other is not what we call confidence building measures," Ben-Ami said.


Ben-Ami said no PLO officials or staff would be allowed to enter or leave the autonomy zones until all four of the banned Palestinians had left Gaza.


Mordechai Gur, the deputy defense minister, said: "There is no doubt that Yasser Arafat himself was totally involved in this."


He accused Arafat of trickery.


Palestinians countered that Israel had not acted in good faith by letting in some PLO officials and barring others.


"This is explicitly in violation of the spirit of the agreement," said Ahmed Tibi, an adviser to Arafat who accompanied the expelled officials back to the border crossing.


Israel said two of the four planned the takeover of a high school in the northern Israeli town of Maalot in 1974 in which 21 Israeli teen-agers were killed along with one Israeli soldier and three Palestinian guerrillas. Reporters said the four PLO guerrillas, wearing military uniforms, came out of the Palestine Hotel with their luggage and Arafat personally sent them off to the border in his black Mercedes sedan.


The guerrillas involved in the attack in Maalot, a town in northern Israel, were identified by Palestinians as Mamdouh Nofal, alleged mastermind of the operation, and Nihad Jayousi.


Israel also objected to Mustafa Liftawi, also known as Abu Firas, one-time head of the Western Sector intelligence group in Beirut that planned scores of military operations against Israeli targets. The fourth was identified as Jihad Amarneh, also an official of the Western Sector.


Environment Minister Yossi Sarid said the guerrillas entered with Arafat through a special VIP entrance accorded the PLO leader and their identities were only discovered later.


Arafat was returning to set up permanent residence as head of government in the newly autonomous Gaza Strip.


Israel prevented 18 Palestinian officials of the Palestinian Democratic Federation from crossing the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank, according to a party statement issued in Jericho.


At Rafah, the crossing was open to all travelers except Palestinians, the army said.