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Search for Negev Murderers Abandoned; Tracks Lost Near Jordan

The search for the Arab gang which massacred 11 Israeli men, women and children in the Negev bus ambush last Wednesday has been called off because the Israeli, Jordanian and United Nations trackers lost the tracks of the murderers in a wild, rocky wadi about five miles from the Jordan frontier, it was announced here today.

Jordanian trackers joined the UN and Israeli party after the commander of the Arab Legion offered, through the Mixed Armistice Commission, to send men to participate in the hunt. Gen. Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff of the Israel Army, instructed the Israeli delegates on the MAC to accept the Jordanian offer. The Jordanian trackers remained with the party one day until the hunt was abandoned.

The tracking teams–led by bloodhounds–had established before the search was called off that the gang of attackers had split up at the scene of the murders and had retreated in two paths at right angles from each other. The trackers spent two nights in the wilderness of wadis and rocks in the fruitless attempt to follow the marauders.

The Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, to which Israel complained about the massacre, met Friday to discuss it, but adjourned pending the results of the search. In the meantime, the commission gave this complaint priority over a number of other incidents it had on its agenda.

The massacre of the 11 Jews has cast a pall of gloom over the entire country and overshadowed the traditionally festive atmosphere of the Feast of Purim, observance of which began last Thursday at sundown. Purim parties throughout Israel were can celled and the only visible sign of the holiday was the presence of children in colorful costumes depicting Queen Esther, Ahasuerus, Mordecai and Haman.

ISRAEL PREMIER CONFERS WITH U. N. TRUCE CHIEF

Premier Moshe Sharett and Gen. Vagn Bennike, chief of the UN truce observation machinery in Palestine, conferred this week-end on the attack. The Premier pointed out that the attack was carefully and methodically planned and had all the outward signs of a military operation. He said that whether they were regulars or a special unit recruited for this task “there was no doubt” that the operation was prepared at a military center. He called the attack a “wanton and entirely unprovoked act.”

Noting that the gang had penetrated deep into Israel territory and struck against a vital artery of internal communications, the Premier said Israel takes the “gravest view” of this attack on the safety of traffic inside the country. “No government conscious of its responsibility for the security of its citizens and the preservation of peace would remain passive in the face of such an onslaught,” he declared. “Responsibility for the attack must be laid at the door of Jordan,” the Premier stated.

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