Jordan Kills Five Jewish Hikers; Turns over Bodies to Israel

The Jordanian authorities last night turned over the bodies of three boys and two girls, all about 16 to 17 years of age, who were slain by Jordan troops while on a hiking trip in the southern Negev. The bodies, now at Elath, have not yet been identified.

The Jordanians claimed that the five were members of an Israel Army unit found on Jordan territory by an Arab Legion unit, which promptly opened fire. The Israelis denied that there were any troops in the area in question and said that the youths were civilians who had apparently wandered over the border by accident.

It was learned that last Thursday, the five youths appeared at Ein Hotzev and asked for transportation to the south where they wished to hike. The authorities refused to let them go through, pointing out that the area was wild and dangerous. The leader of the group was sent northward in a car, but the other four managed to get a hitch in a civilian car heading south. Later, the leader headed southward also.

The authorities, learning that the youths had gotten away to the south, alerted all guard posts to halt them. One car, with five youths, was stopped and ordered to return northward. It was learned, afterwards, that this was the wrong car. What happened after that is not known since none of the hikers survived the Arab Legion attack. The Israelis first learned about their fate from United Nations observers who carried out the transfer of the bodies.

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