JERUSALEM (May. 25)
World leaders continued to express grief and shock at the ambush by Arab guerrillas of an Israeli school bus near the Lebanon border Friday that resulted in the death of eight children and four adults and the wounding of 21 other passengers, mostly children. Pope Paul VI, through the Papal Delegate, Msgr. Pio Laghi, sent a message to Foreign Minister Abba Eban declaring “His heartfelt sentiments and sympathy both to your government and to the families of the innocent victims” killed and wounded by an Arab terrorist assault on a school bus. The Papal message, however, evenhandedly condemned violence by both sides in the Mideast conflict. It stated: “The Holy Father deplored all acts of violence no matter what their source which do serious harm to innocent people and which only deepen the rift between one people and another. His Holiness prays that such acts will come to an end and implores the Almighty to send peace and tranquility to the entire Middle East for the benefit of all of its people.” The Vatican does not recognize the State of Israel.
Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York condemned the Arab ambush as an “unspeakable act of terrorist violence.” He also condemned the apparent reprisal beatings of three Arab nationalists in New York on Friday, declaring that all violence is “intolerable” and “serves no decent cause.” Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart, said “I am profoundly shocked at this cruel act of terrorism which I unreservedly condemn, I wish to express my deep sympathy with all those who have suffered, particularly those who have lost children.” The British Foreign Office issued a somewhat longer statement asserting that “Her Majesty’s government have repeatedly deplored attacks, by whomsoever committed, which have caused so many casualties and contributed to the further deterioration of the situation in the area.” Dr. Moses Rosen, Chief Rabbi of Rumania, said at the World Jewish Congress Governing Council meeting in Montreal that he was “overcome with grief” at the ambush. “The lives of innocent children were senselessly sacrificed,” he said adding he hoped the “terrible conflict” in the Middle East would end “as soon as possible.”
The Israel Students Association mailed 100,000 pamphlets in several languages to student organizations all over the world describing the massacre and containing the photograph of a child on a stretcher. The inscription reads, “A day in Israel–murderous attack on children, Russian pilots in Egypt, a nation fighting for survival. Can you remain indifferent?” Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Nissim, called on the leaders of the Moslem faith last night “to act with all means at their disposal to halt and put an end to the criminal murders perpetrated by members of their religion.” The Chief Rabbi’s statement continued, “The enlightened world and the spiritual leaders of all faiths must lift their voices against such atrocities. The attack shows an abysmal depth in criminal deeds, one that only sickens the imagination.” Mr. Eban. meeting with Mr. Stewart at his country home yesterday before flying home to Israel reportedly thanked the British diplomat for his expression of profound sympathy with the victims of the school bus ambush. However, Mr. Eban also conveyed Israel’s regret that Britain voted in the Security Council last week in favor of an Arab-backed resolution censuring Israel for its May 12-13 incursion against guerrilla bases in Lebanon. Britain’s prompt and unequivocal denunciation of the school bus ambush has nevertheless eased some of the resentment felt by Israeli diplomats here and British Jews generally at what they consider an unfriendly act by a friendly government.