In its June victory over the Arabs, Is rael found itself occupying territory three times its own size. The conquest brought obvious security advantages to a nation so small that its principal cities were within easy range of Arab ar tillery, but it also brought obvious problems. Along with the land, Israel also inherited its population of 1,330,000 Arabs, most of whom feared and hated the Jews. Nonetheless, by all accounts and on almost all counts, the occupation has gone remarkably well.
As occupiers, the Israelis have sur prised the Arabs by treating them in a civilized, if firm, manner. They have, in return, won the Arabs' grudging toleration, if not their full cooperation.
There have been no mass protest movements, no major street demonstrations, no successful civil-disobedience campaigns. While some terrorism exists, it is sporadic and isolated. The Israelis have made it almost impossible for any Arab to be a terrorist for very long.
The Israelis are admittedly and purposefully tough in their efforts to stamp out guerrilla activities. Last week troops arrested 54 members of a major sabotage ring that had been operating along the West Bank of the Jordan; two other terrorists, caught in a cave north of Jerusalem, were killed trying to escape.
In the six months since the war, Israeli security forces have hunted down and killed 63 armed guerrillas, captured more than 350 others. They have also impressed upon the Arab residents of the occupied lands that it is folly to co operate with the terrorists in any way.
In the Gaza Strip village of Dir el-Bel-lah, troops destroyed ten Arab houses in direct reprisal for the murder of a young Jewish settler. On the West Bank, bulldozers leveled the entire town of Jiftlig (prewar pop. 6,000) because it was a suspected staging area for terrorist units.
Despite such tactics, incidents of terrorism still occur. Arab "commandos" last month infiltrated close enough to Tel Aviv to lob nine mortar shells into the suburb of Petah Tiqva, and two weeks ago another guerrilla band shot it out with police near the city's international airport. Terrorists also blew up the water reservoir of a kibbutz in Upper Galilee, almost succeeded in cutting the rail line to Jerusalem and derailed a passenger train in the Negev
Desert near Beersheba. A warning by the Arab guerrilla organization El Fatah that Christmas tourists would not be safe in the Holy Land led the Israeli government to station 950 security police in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and to set up roadblocks in the area.
Such incidents are, however, minor exceptions to an otherwise peaceful coexistence between the two peoples. Jews now frequent Arab restaurants in East Jerusalem, and Arab patients are freely admitted to the $30 million Hadassah Medical Center in West Jerusalem. The Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem were scheduled with little change in the traditions established while the town was under Arab rule. As many as 40,000 Jewish pilgrims a day travel to Hebron to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), which for 700 years has been an Arab mosque. Jewish tourists literally swarm over the Golan Heights every weekend. On 9,211-ft. Mount Hermon, in what used to be Syria, a group of enterprising kibbutzniks plans to open a ski resort that might just be called the Shalom Slalom.