JERUSALEM (May. 18)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Cabinet today that “close and continuing” contacts were being maintained with the Turkish government in yesterday’s kidnaping of the Israeli Consul General in Istanbul, Ephraim Elrom, by a Turkish revolutionary group. A government communique expressed “deep concern” over the fate of the Israeli diplomat. The Turkish government has expressed sorrow and apologies for the incident and advised the Israeli representative in Ankara, Daniel Laor, that it would do everything in its power to rescue the Consul General and apprehend his abductors. A group which calls itself the “Turkish Peoples Liberation Army” claimed credit for the kidnaping of Elrom from his Istanbul apartment yesterday. Turkish authorities and Israeli sources have linked the group with extremist Palestinian terrorists. The Turkish News Agency reported the receipt of a typewritten letter stating that Elrom’s life would be spared if “all revolutionary guerrillas under detention presently are set free.” It was not clear whether the demand included Palestinian terrorists held by Israel or only terrorists held in Turkey.
Turkish authorities said the so-called “Liberation Army” sided with Palestinian groups against Israel and considers the Israeli government “a tool of U.S. imperialism in the Mediterranean.” Israeli sources linked the group with the “radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” It was not clear whether the reference was to the PFLP headed by the revolutionary Marxist Dr. George Habash or the even more extreme Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine headed by Nayet Hawatmeh. Most Israeli newspapers expressed the view that the kidnaping may have been an act against Israel. Al Hamishmar observed that “irrespective of whether or not there is cooperation between the Turkish leftist organizations and the Palestinian terrorists, the abduction testifies to the nature of certain leftist circles which have stooped to acts of terroristm and crime.” Elrom, 60, was deputy chief of police bureau 06 established in 1960 to investigate the war crimes of Adolf Eichmann. Prior to that he was chairman of the Criminal Investigation Department at Israel’s national police headquarters.