Victims of Bulgarian Attack on Israel Plane Buried in Tel Aviv

The 58 victims killed in the Israel plane which was shot down in Bulgaria were buried in a common grave in Tel Aviv’s new cemetery today as thousands of mourners looked on. In addition to the rabbis who officiated, a Protestant Minister and two Catholic priests participated in the religious services, reciting sections from the Psalms. Before the funeral began, the two Catholic priests sanctified the grave. There were four non-Jews among the victims.

The 200-vehicle caravan led by Army trucks carrying the wreath covered coffins wended its way through Tel Aviv’s main streets to the cemetery, which was nearly ten miles out of town. Fifty thousand persons, many openly weeping, lined the streets as busses filled with relatives and other mourners and cars full of government officials army and police officers, religious leaders and diplomats passed through.

Among the mourners were the President’s adjutant, Premier Moshe Sharett members of his Cabinet, many deputies, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi I.J. Unterman, the Ambassadors of the United States and Britain, the Ministers of Turkey, Finland, Guatemala, Brazil and Belgium, and the charge d’afiaires of a number of other states. Also in the funeral procession were top Army officers, police officials religious leaders, judges, members of the Jewish Agency and Tel Aviv’s Mayor Chaim Levanon.

At the cemetery, an El Al guard of honor lowered each coffin into the long trench-like grave as the recitation of Psalms by rabbis were heard mingling with the sobs of relatives of the martyrs. After the grave was covered, the relatives recited a mass Kaddish (prayer for the dead).

Rabbi Unterman eulogized the dead and prayed for their families, after which Premier Sharett told the mourners that they had laid at rest men, women and children who “had perished as victims of a wanton and savage assault. The revolting brutality and callous disregard for the sanctity of human life revealed in this murderous attack will remain the subject of universal execration and serve as a stern warning for the future.”

The Premier made mention of Bulgaria’s statement accepting full responsibility for the deed and admitting its guilt, but he said, “the full truth” about the incident is still not known. “There can be no compensation and retribution for the death of the peaceful wayfarer brought about through no fault of his own,” he concluded.

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