Thant Terms Hijacking Savage, Inhuman; Tekoah Condemns Lebanon, Jordan Governments

Secretary General U Thant assailed today the “criminal acts of hijacking planes” and termed the acts of the hijackers as “savage and inhuman.” In what was considered here as Mr. Thant’s strongest condemnation of hijacking to date, the Secretary General declared: “It is high time that the international community, through appropriate agencies and organizations, adopt prompt and effective measures to put a stop to this return to the law of the jungle.” Mr. Thant’s statement came in the wake of the hijackings on Sunday of three airliners by Arab terrorists and their disastrous effort to hijack a fourth – an El Al airliner – during flights ever Europe on their way back to the United States. The terrorists forced a Pan American 747 jumbo jet to fly to Cairo Airport where it was blown up minutes after the passengers and crew scrambled through emergency chutes to safety. They returned to Kennedy Airport in New York late last night. Two other airliners – TWA and Swiss air – were hijacked to a desert area in northern Jordan where terrorists continue to hold passengers and crew members hostages. The only defeat for the terrorist hijackers came on the El AI plane where security guards killed the male terrorist while passengers subdued the female terrorist.

Israel’s Ambassador Yosef Tekoah also denounced the hijackings and the governments of Lebanon and Jordan for complicity in the acts. Answering newsmen’s questions about the hijackings. Mr. Tekoah said the Lebanese government allowed members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to board the hijacked Pan American Jet while it landed at the Beirut Airport to reinforce their co-terrorists aboard the plane and supplied fuel for the jumbo jet to continue its flight to Cairo. Mr, Tekoah said this could not be regarded as anything but cooperation. Referring to the role of the Jordanian government, the Israeli ambassador said it was doing nothing to safeguard and free the hostages held by the hijackers. How can any government, which fails to undertake its obligations to helpless women and children among the captive passengers be relied upon when it comes to discussing and maintaining peace? Mr. Tekoah asked. In his statement to newsmen this morning. Mr. Thant said: “These criminal acts of hijacking planes, of detaining passengers and crew, of blowing up aircraft and of the detention of passengers in transit from commercial airliners, are most deplorable and must be condemned. However understandable and even justifiable some of the grievances of the perpetrators may be, their acts are savage and inhuman.” A spokesman for the United Nations said that Mr. Thant declined to elaborate on what he meant by “prompt and effective measures” to halt these hijackings. The spokesman said the Secretary General “is in touch” with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association.

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