TEL AVIV (Oct. 10)
Police reported today that a 17-year-old Hebron high school student has confessed to throwing the hand grenade that injured 47 Israeli civilians visiting the Patriarchs’ Tomb in Hebron yesterday. The youth, identified as Addin Rashid Geit, was apprehended within 12 hours after the incident. Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan told newsmen today that punitive measures were likely to be taken against several other Hebron residents known to have cooperated with young Geit.
Police said the student was arrested in the course of an investigation that began immediately after the blast and which resulted in the arrest and questioning of many Hebron residents. After his confession he cooperated with police and reconstructed the episode, police sources said. The grenade attack was denounced by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in an address to Israeli war veterans last night. He called it an outrage. His sentiments were echoed by Shiekh Mohammad Ali Jaabari, the mayor of Hebron, who declared that it was as much an assault on Arabs as it was on Jews.
The grenade was tossed over a six-foot wall and exploded on steps leading to the tomb which is located within the compound of the Ibrahimi mosque. Twenty-one of the injured were still in hospitals today. Eight of them underwent emergency surgery. Doctors at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem said all were off the danger list. Twenty-one of the victims were members of a tour group organized by the Israel Nautical College in Acre and one was a non-Israeli tourist identified as Esther Cohen, 32, of Panama.
In a radio interview yesterday, Gen. Dayan urged Jews to continue to visit the shrine which was reportedly filled with worshippers today. Gen. Dayan, who visited the site of the explosion, told newsmen today that stricter security measures would be taken to safeguard tourists and worshippers in Hebron. He said that guards would be posted on the roofs around the tomb site. But Gen. Dayan declined to comment on reports that the key to the mosque and the tomb would hereafter be entrusted to the border police and not to the aged Moslem guard who held it during the Jordanian rule of the city and was permitted by the Israelis to retain it.
Several Israeli newspapers warned today against acts of reprisal by Israeli youth for the Hebron grenade incident. The newspaper Hatzofe, organ of the National Religious Party, claimed that part of the blame must be assigned to the Moslem leadership in Hebron which has objected to Jewish religious services in the mosque area.