TEL AVIV (May. 26)
Extraordinary measures of secrecy and security were taken today at Lydda airport in connection with the scheduled arrival of Franz Josef Strauss, former West German Defense Minister, who had been invited by Israel’s Defense Ministry for a 12-day visit to Israel.
The exact time of Mr. Strauss’ landing at the airport today was one of the most strictly kept secrets in order to avoid demonstrations. So were the arrangements made to take the German visitor out of the Lydda airport, since the road leading from the airport to Tel Aviv was picketed by members of the Herut, Israel’s right-wing party, which strongly protests the Israel Government invitation to Mr. Strauss.
In addition to placing on the security services the responsibility for maintaining order at the airport, strong police forces were standing ready at the airport and on the roads from the airport for any eventuality. At the same time, trucks loaded with Herut members started rumbling since early morning hours toward Lydda airport. They carried demonstrators set to protest Mr. Strauss’ arrival.
Heading the Herut groups were Menahem Beigin and other leaders of the Herut Party, including Herut members of the Israel parliament. The trucks were displaying posters and banners reading “Strauss Raus” (“Strauss Get Out”) and “We don’t Want You–Go Home.” One Herut group was stationed outside the main building of the airport, while others took up positions on both sides of the road from the airport. The Herut leaders said, however, that their anti-Strauss demonstration would be peaceful.
Last night, Mapam staged a protest meeting that ended in some minor clashes between youth groups and police. The police authorities prevented formation of another demonstration after the meeting had ended. A few youngsters, shouting “Gestapo Nazis,” suffered minor injuries as they tried to fight the police. The Mapam meeting had attracted 1,500 persons, most of them from kibbutzim. Earlier, another demonstration had been put on by the Communists.
(In Germany, Mr. Strauss said yesterday that protests against his visit to Israel were “politically understandable but humanly unjustified.” He indicated his determination to leave for Israel and said that rejection of the Israel invitation would have been impolite. He emphasized that he had personally nothing to do with Hitler’s Germany.)
Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Shimon Peres, indicated that he will be at the airport to welcome Mr. Strauss. He said that the former German Defense Minister was never a Nazi and that he gave Israel defense aid. However, from Bonn it was reported that the West German Government there flatly denied that it was making any contribution to Israel’s defense.