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Right-Wing Rabbi On Trial For Palestinian Death

August 28, 1989 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a founder of the Jewish settlement movement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, went on trial Monday on charges he killed a Palestinian shopkeeper in September 1988.

Also Monday, three Palestinians died of gunshot wounds suffered in clashes with Israeli forces and a fourth was beaten to death by fellow Arabs who accused him of collaborating with Israeli authorities.

Thirteen Palestinians were shot and wounded with plastic bullets in stone- throwing clashes with troops in three Gaza Strip refugee camps, Arab hospital officials said.

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The shooting deaths raised the toll to 553 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers or civilians in the 20-month uprising. Ninety-nine Palestinians have been reported slain by fellow Arabs as alleged collaborators during the revolt, and 38 Israelis have been killed.

Levinger, spiritual leader of the settler movement Gush Emunim, or Bloc of the Faithful, pleaded innocent to manslaughter charges in the death of Kayed Salah, 42, in the West Bank town of Hebron on Sept. 30.

Levinger has said he fired in the air to defend himself against a stoning attack on his car. The indictment charges he returned to the stoning scene and opened fire at a distance of 12 yards after reporting the incident to soldiers. Judge Ezra Hadaya dismissed an attempt by Levinger’s attorney to base his defense on an assertion the government was not doing enough to defend Jews from Arab attacks.

″We conduct our trials only according to relevant facts,″ Hadaya said.

The private Israeli Information Center for Human Rights says 23 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli civilians in the uprising. One Israeli has been convicted in the cases.

Before the 30-minute proceedings, Levinger and a group of supporters demonstrated outside the home of Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini, screaming he should be detained as ″the biggest terrorist″ in the West Bank.

During the protest, Levinger handed Husseini a copy of a fake identity card giving his occupation as ″terrorist.″

Husseini was freed by the government in January after spending most of the preceding 20 months in jail. He was held without charge or trial.

Also Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar criticized Israel’s latest round of deportations of Palestinians accused of leading the uprising. Israel deported five Palestinians on Sunday, four to Lebanon and one to France.

Perez de Cuellar ″once again appeals to Israel as the occupying power to rescind such deportation orders and to abide by its obligations″ under international law, a statement said.

The Palestinian deaths reported Monday included 21-year-old Bassel Khaled Suleiman of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem and 20-year-old Ali Mahmoud Shaban from Jabaliya refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip.

Suleiman was wounded when police opened fire on masked youths who blocked a main road in Beit Safafa on Sunday night and pelted police with stones, said Jerusalem police spokesman Uzi Sandori.

Doctors at Mukassed Hospital in Arab east Jerusalem said he died later of two plastic bullet wounds to the chest.

The third Palestinian killed was Jamal Abu Sfakeh, a 58-year-old Tulkaram resident who arrived dead at the town hospital, Arab reports said.

The Army said soldiers shot Abu Sfakeh when he attacked them with a metal crowbar. Tulkaram was placed under curfew, an army spokesman said.

Shaban died in Israel’s Tel Hashomer Hospital of wounds suffered Friday, the army said.

The army said he was masked with an Arab keffiyeh scarf when he was shot while ″interfering with army operations.″ The Jerusalem Post daily said he was going from door to door collecting Israeli-issued identity cards. Israel recently began requiring Palestinians to carry the cards.

Also Monday, 60-year-old Rajeb Al Kassas died of injuries suffered three days earlier when he was beaten by masked youths who accused him of collaborating with Israeli authorities, Arab reports said.

The army confirmed the death in the West Bank town of Nablus and said police were investigating.