Pilot of Hijacked Plane Says Terrorists Opened Fire First

A State prosecutor said today that airline security regulations were violated and a Judicial investigation will be launched into last week’s hijacking of a Sabena Jet by four Palestinian terrorists. Capt. Reginald Levy, pilot of the Jet, testified at a hearing today that it was the terrorists who opened fire first when 18 Israeli paratroopers disguised as maintenance men, stormed the plane to liberate the 100 hostages at Lydda Airport last Wednesday.

Premier Gaston Eyskens said at the weekly Council of Ministers meeting yesterday that the Belgian government was at no time a party to Israeli actions that liberated the jet. “The Belgian government put its confidence in the Israeli authorities and at no time was it aware of the intentions of the Israeli government or military,” he said.

Eyskens expressed “astonishment” and “indignation” that “certain persons accuse the Belgian government” of collusion with the Israeli authorities. He referred to accusations broadcast by the Cairo-based El Fatah radio. The Belgian Premier said that foreign affairs and communications personnel were sent to Tel Aviv only to help the passengers held hostage aboard the Jet. He said the Belgian government remained neutral in the Middle East conflict and endeavored to maintain good relations with both sides.

It was learned today that Sabena has been urged by numerous persons to institute more stringent security measures. Many have suggested that it follow the example of the Israeli and Ethiopian airlines and have armed guards on all civilian flights.

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