JERUSALEM (Aug. 9)
Israeli security units pushed a search today for members of the El Fatah terrorist group following the arrest of 50 Arabs in West Bank refugee camps suspected of El Fatah connections. At the same time, Israeli authorities issued detention orders against two more Arab notables in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The two are Hafez Tahboub, 40, an attorney, and Moussa el Bitar, director of an Arab insurance company and one-time candidate for the Jordanian Parliament. They were charged with initiating and inciting in connection with the one day general strike of Arab merchants in Old Jerusalem Monday. They were taken to Ramleh prison to serve a three-months detention ordered by the Israeli military administration. The detention orders were issued by the West Bank commander acting under emergency regulations issued by the British Mandatory regime in 1945 and still in effect in Israel. Four Arab notables were previously banished on July 31 to towns in northern Israel on earlier incitement charges.
It was reported that more arrests of Arab leaders were likely and that some of the Arabs who helped incite the Monday shutdown came to Jerusalem from Jordan. A number of Arab shops which were closed in the one day strike and an Arab bus firm which halted service to nearby villages had their licenses revoked.
ARRESTED TERRORISTS ADMIT PLANS FOR UNDERGROUND ACTION
The El Fatah roundup began three days ago when an Israeli security agent recognized an El Fatah member from a photograph found on a Jordanian intelligence document seized by Israeli units in the brief war against Jordan in June. The suspect was shadowed and seen to enter a coffee house in Bethlehem where he met with several other Fatah men. The place was surrounded and the men were arrested.
During interrogation, the suspects admitted their plans for renewal of terrorist activity and gave Israeli security officials the names of other Fatah men in refugee camps in Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho in the occupied West Bank. A search of the camps disclosed quantities of Communist Chinese submachine guns, ammunition, explosives, hand grenades and other military equipment.
The detainees included Fatah members who infiltrated into Israeli-held territory from Jordan. According to a statement issued by Israeli officials, the terrorists, who caused widespread property destruction and loss of life in Israel border settlements with sneak raids, were revealed to have been preparing a resumption of such actions, including planting of mines and explosives.
Indicating that more Fatah arrests were likely, Israeli officials said that Fatah members in the West Bank had meetings with Jordanian and Syrian intelligence officials on plans to resume terrorist activities in the West Bank area.