Coffins Containing Remains of Swiss Airline Victims Buried in Jerusalem

Twenty coffins were lowered into a common grave here today. They contained the segmented remains of what were presumed to have been the 20 Jewish passengers–16 of them Israelis–who died when an Israel-bound Swiss air jet blew up and crashed over Zurich on Feb. 21, the apparent victim of an Arab terrorist bomb. The families of the deceased were joined at the mass funeral by President Zalman Shazar. Premier Golda Meir, Cabinet ministers, the Knesset speaker and many Knesset members. Mrs. Meir delivered the eulogy. The coffins were landed at Lydda Airport last night by a Swiss air cargo plane. Hundreds of mourners stood on the cold, windswept runway as prayers for the dead were recited by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief Chaplain of Israel’s armed forces, who had accompanied the coffins on the flight from Zurich.

Minister of Transport Ezer Weizman, a former Air Force general, stood with bowed head as the words were chanted amid sobbing from the relatives of the deceased. The coffins, draped in Israel’s national colors, were lifted by soldiers on to four Army trucks. The airport siren sounded and a minute’s silence was observed by the throng. Rabbi Goren explained later that the coffins contained only fragments of bodies and blood-soaked soil. None of the 47 victims aboard the Swiss air plane could be identified positively. The Army chaplain flew to Zurich after the disaster to try to determine which were the Jews. He said there were Catholics, Protestants and one Buddhist aboard the aircraft and that their presumed remains would be buried abroad according to their respective religious rites. In her eulogy today, Mrs. Meir said “Our grief and anger will turn into a great force, both moral and actual, against the murderers and the Arab states who become partners in their crimes by aiding and sheltering them.”

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