JERUSALEM -- Amid signs that the 3-year-old Palestinian uprising is spinning into a new and more murderous phase, several Palestinian leaders now say they have lost control of the movement's young street activists, whom they described as increasingly bent on killing Jews.
And, in an admission that the situation has become, as one senior security official put it, "too much, too heavy," Israel ordered yesterday three of those same leaders jailed on charges of inciting violence against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
After weeks of Palestinian knife, Molotov cocktail and hammer attacks on Jewish citizens, police and soldiers, Defense Minister Moshe Arens ordered two West Bank residents, Radwan Abu Ayyash, president of the Arab Journalists Association, and journalist Ziad Abu Zayyed, imprisoned for six months. Dr. Ahmed al-Yaziji, an alleged Palestinian Liberation Organization leader in the Gaza Strip, was jailed for one year.
The three were charged with being members of the PLO. Mr. Abu Ayyash and Mr. Abu Zayyed also were charged with "carrying out anti-Israeli activities" that included inciting to violence.
Yesterday's arrests signaled a belief by security officials that blame for the new wave of attacks goes in great measure to visible Palestinian leaders.
"These activists were senior operatives of the Unified National Command, which is the body responsible for the central program of violence initiated and dictated by the PLO," said Col. Moshe Fogel, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman.
"We have very solid proof. We have a tremendous amount of evidence indicating their guiding hands behind the violent activities in the territories."
Principally, Israeli security forces claimed that the two West Bank Palestinians had helped plan and write recent leaflets distributed by the PLO and its subgroups that, Colonel Fogel said, "have shown an escalation of terminology and shown a rising call for personal attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians by arson, stabbing and other violence."
Palestinian leaders, including Mr. Abu Ayyash, deny that the political leadership of the Palestinian uprising is responsible for planning and encouraging the heavier violence.
"Frankly speaking, it is out of control," said Mr. Abu Ayyash, in an interview the day before his arrest. "I cannot sell non-violence to my own 13-year-old daughter."
He said the real force behind the attacks was the growing anger of Palestinian people, infuriated by the fatal shooting by Israeli police of 18 Arabs Oct. 8 on Jerusalem's Temple Mount and by other Israeli actions.
"People are saying: We are killed in the streets, we are killed in the mosques, we are killed everywhere. The U.N. is doing nothing. The Israelis are killing us. We should respond with practical steps, not words."
Faisal Huseini, another prominent Palestinian leader allegedly linked to the PLO, said the uprising was at a "turning point," in which more and more Palestinians "are saying the only way to convince the Israelis is to make them suffer, too, to make them pay in blood."
Until recently, he said, the uprising's policy of restraint had held back such feelings, "but what we are seeing now is these individuals who are not controlled by anyone."
Sari Nusabi, a Palestinian leader who was once beaten by extremists for advocating peace talks with Israel, said, "There is a new attitude among the people, a sense that violance pays. It's percolating up from the people themselves."
Also yesterday, an Israeli soldier on duty near the Jordanian border was killed by a youthful Palestinian infiltrator, military officials said.