JERUSALEM (Dec. 13)
Jewish immigrants from Russia Involved in the Leningrad hijack plot of June, 1970, said here today that basically the idea to steal an airplane was implanted by agents of the Soviet regime but Jews easily fell into the trap because they were desperate to leave the USSR. The emigres addressing a press conference here for the first time since their arrival in Israel, were Meri Mendelevitch Khanokh, 21, whose husband Leib G. Khanokh is presently serving a 10-year sentence, her brother-in-law Dr. Pinchas Khanokh, Marina Tartakowskaya and Nina Lutzova; all are from Riga.
Mrs. Khanokh arrived in Israel several days ago with her 10-month-old son Yigal. Although arrested in Israel in June, 1970, she was released because she was pregnant, the reason being, according to her, that a pregnant woman did not fit into the image of desperate criminals that the Soviet authorities were trying to present to the world.
Under questioning by reporters, she did not deny that her husband and others planned to seize a plane at Leningrad airport in order to flee Russia 18 months ago, Dr. Khanokh, who arrived in Israel eight months ago and works at the Chupat Holim Hospital in Afula, said that he had known of the hijack plan though he denied knowledge when interrogated by the KGB, the Soviet secret police.
He said he believed at first that the plot was “100 percent provocation” intended by the authorities to frighten Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate. Now, however, he said he thinks provocation was 80 percent accountable for the deed and the rest was due to the strong desire of the Jews to leave Russia and their belief that it would be impossible to do so legally.