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Confirm Reports That Iraq Plans New Executions, Including Jews, for Alleged Spying

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Reports circulated here yesterday that Iraq will hang seven more men tomorrow or Tuesday–at least two or three of them Jews–for allegedly spying for Israel, were confirmed today by Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban in Jerusalem. Mr. Eban, citing informed sources, said three Jews were among those scheduled for the noose. Tuesday marks the Jewish festival of Purim, celebrating the rescue of Persian Jewry from annihilation.

The reports of impending new hangings here came from various diplomatic sources. The informants, who remained anonymous, said that, as in the previous hangings in Iraq, the victims had been convicted by a military tribunal of spying on behalf of “Israel, Zionism and imperialism.” On Jan. 27, 14 Iraqis were executed in Baghdad and Basra, and their bodies were displayed in public. Nine were Jews. Eight more persons, none Jews, were executed on Feb, 20. The first executions brought widespread criticism from Western countries, UN Secretary General U Thant, Pope Paul VI, Jewish organizations, and even admonitions to Iraq from several Arab governments. The second executions passed with fewer protests.

(The Israeli Government noted the reports with anxiety and voiced hope that the world reaction to the earlier hangings would lead the Baghdad authorities to refrain from repeating the act. Israeli Arabs attending a memorial meeting for the late Premier Levi Eshkol adopted a resolution protesting the hangings, harassment and torture of political prisoners of the Moslem, Jewish and Christian faiths in Iraq. The gathering included several hundred Arab labor leaders and representatives of town councils. Representatives from East Jerusalem also attended.)

(In Geneva, World Jewish Congress secretary-general Dr. Gerhard M. Riegner appealed to UN Human Rights Commission, meeting there and attended by Iraqi representatives, to do everything in its power to halt the new executions.)

(In anticipation of the new hangings involving more Jews, Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the American Zionist Council, called on the U.S. Government “to act quickly and in the most forceful manner to prevent the execution of Iraqi citizens” who are victims “of nothing more than the fact that they are out of sympathy with the aims of the present Iraqi rulers.” Jewish students said they would demonstrate in front of the Iraqi UN mission tomorrow in protest against the anticipated hangings. The demonstrators will represent the North American Jewish Youth Council, Yeshiva University, Stern College and several local Hebrew day schools.)

The summary executions of the alleged spies and the brutal display of their corpses created a wave of revulsion that was believed in some quarters to have had political effects on the Baghdad regime. Several news reports following the Jan. 27 hangings said that Iraq had released some Jews held in prison. These reports were denied last week by Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Speaking at a memorial service for the victims, he said that “reliable sources reveal that the tragic status of Jews in Iraq, Egypt and Syria remains unchanged. He claimed that “hundreds of Jews are still languishing in prison for no other crime whatever other than that they are Jews.”

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