JERUSALEM (Nov. 24)
East Jerusalem returned to normal today as a curfew imposed after Friday’s explosion in the Jewish Mahane Yehuda marketplace in the western sector of the city was lifted. The blast, caused by high explosives concealed in a parked car, killed 12 people, eight of whom have been identified and five buried so far. Fifty were hospitalized. At least one victim was an Arab and another, a boy of about 13, may have been an Arab. All of the identified dead were from Jerusalem. The explosion caused extensive property damage.
Five hundred Arabs were detained for questioning within hours after the explosion but by yesterday only 72 remained in custody. One hundred persons were charged with curfew violations and were to appear in court. Municipal workers, many of them Arabs, cleared debris in the marketplace which was located on Aggripa’s Way near the Mea Shearim quarter, a district inhabited mainly by Orthodox Jews.
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol visited the scene of the blast and praised self-restraint shown by the Jewish population. There were only a few incidents of Arabs being assaulted by enraged Jews after the explosion. Last Sept. 4, when a series of grenade explosions rocked downtown Jerusalem, Killing one Israeli and wounding 51, bands of Jewish youths roamed the Old City of Jerusalem’s Arab quarters attacking Arabs and smashing their cars and stores for several hours before police brought them under control. Prompt sealing-off of East Jerusalem was credited with avoidance of similar incidents this time.
Mr. Eshkol called the explosion an “outrage” that “revealed the true nature of Israel’s enemies.” He said responsibility for it belonged to the Arab rulers who have encouraged terrorist activities. “They failed to defeat Israel on the battlefield so they turned to the murder of civilians by hit-and-run tactics.”
Police today were silent on the progress of their investigation and would not say whether they had caught any suspects or found any leads. The vehicle containing the TNT, though practically demolished, was identified as an eight to 10-year-old British-made Morris Oxford. It is a model not owned by many Israelis and may have belonged to a West Bank resident. Police said they are tracing the ownership of the vehicle and also the possibility that it might have been stolen. Officials said that the damaged buildings and other property damaged or destroyed is covered by Israel’s new national insurance law which compensates victims of terrorist acts. Dependents of persons who were killed and victims who are permanently injured will be entitled to pensions.