JERUSALEM (Sep. 13)
Israeli authorities disclosed today that 450 Arab residents of the occupied territories have been arrested during the past 48 hours for “interrogation.” They are suspected of being members or supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the terrorist organization still holding a substantial number of airline hijack hostages, mainly Israelis, somewhere in Jordan.
According to Army sources, 350 of the arrests were made in the Judaea-Samaria region (West Bank) and 100 in the Gaza Strip where the PFLP is said to control most terrorist activities. Reports said that about 80 women are among the arrested suspects. It was learned in addition that Israel has expelled six prominent West Bank Arabs to Jordan for alleged collaboration with the PFLP. They were described as physicians, lawyers and influential merchants.
The mass arrests took place as the Israel Government sought assurances from the United States, Britain, Switzerland and West Germany that they would stand fast in their refusal to negotiate piecemeal ransom for their nationals still held by the terrorists. The Foreign Ministry announced today that Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, met with Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco on the matter. Similar representations were made by the Israeli envoys in Bonn, Berne and London. The terrorists released 255 hostages yesterday and blew up the three hijacked air-craft at an airstrip in northern Jordan. They are holding an undetermined number of hostages, vari- ously reported at 39 to 54, at another location in Jordan. Reportedly 23 of them are Israeli nationals, including some who hold dual Israeli and American citizenship. The Israeli Government was reported to be standing firm in its refusal to have any dealings, direct or indirect, with the terrorists. It was disclosed today, however, that Israeli authorities sent two West Bank Arabs as an unofficial delegation to Amman to meet with high-ranking members of the PFLP. The two returned today but no word of the outcome of their mission was released. PFLP leader Dr. George Habash reportedly refused to meet them.