Soldiers, Police, Helicopters Hunt Terrorists in Fatal Rocket Attack on Petach Tikvah

Army patrols and border police aided by helicopters scoured the countryside today for the terrorists whose Katyusha rocket attack on Petach Tikvah last night killed a five-year-old girl and a 71-year-old woman and injured 19 other persons. The woman, identified as Esther Vitas, was killed when a rocket scored a direct hit on Reth Rivka Hospital, a hospital for incurables. Nine of the inmates, all elderly, were injured as they lay in their beds. A physician, two nurses and a male nurse were also injured. An entire ward was wrecked. Five-year-old Anat Darbashi was killed and her parents and two sisters were injured when a rocket struck their home in a densely populated part of the town of 80,000. Another private home and a school house sustained direct hits. The school was empty at the time. Two classrooms were demolished. The rockets were fired at 10:15 p.m. local time from a range that could have been anywhere up to 14 miles. Petach Tikvah is nine miles east of Tel Aviv and six miles from the pre-June. 1967 Israel-Jordan border. The entire area has been placed under curfew.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Bar Lev arrived in Petach Tikvah to survey the damage as ambulances were still rushing victims to the Bellinson and Hasharon hospitals. Gen. Dayan said that as long as the war continues it would be difficult to prevent terrorist attacks on populated areas. He said stopping the flow of workers and others from the West Bank would not solve the problem. Authorities warned Petach Tikvah residents today not to touch suspicious looking objects. An unexploded rocket was found in the school yard. Dayan told newsmen that the terrorists “probably came from Jordan” and “probably had support from Arabs on the West Bank.”

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