Settlement in Mourning for American Woman Killed During Syrian Shelling

Ramat Magshimim, a cooperative settlement on the Golan Heights was in mourning today for Esther Ben David, a 26-year-old mother of three, formerly of New York, who was killed instantly when Syrian long-range shells blasted the settlement at noon yesterday. She was buried today on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem. A second fatality in yesterday’s attack was a 34-year-old Druze policeman, Fuad Abdallah, the father of five children. He was on his way to visit relatives in Buquaata village on the Golan Heights when his jeep was hit by Syrian artillery fire. He was buried today at his native village of Yarka in Western Galilee.

Mrs. Ben David was the first American settler to die in the renewed Syrian shelling of settlements on the Golan Heights, described as the notorious since the Yom Kippur War. She was racing to a bomb shelter with her infant child, she was felled by an exploding shell. The child was snatched from her arms and taken to the shelter without suffering injuries. Mrs. Ben David came to Israel from New York two years ago with her Israeli husband.

Military sources said that about 40 Syrian shells exploded inside the perimeter of Ramat Magshimim yesterday. Three other Golan Heights settlements came under fire: Ein Zivan and El-Rom in the northern sector and Nahal Geshor in the southern sector of the Heights.

In another incident, Arab terrorist infiltrators from Lebanon fired bazooka rockets and small arms into the Upper Galilee border town of Metullah last night while the settlers were sleeping. The settlers, awakened by the explosions, took to their bomb shelters. No casualties were reported but there was some property damage Israeli forces returned fire. The attack was the first on Metullah since the Yom Kippur War.

SHELLING STEMS FROM POLICY DECISION

Israeli circles said today that the Syrian shellings which have been mounting in intensity during the past week apparently stem from a policy decision in the higher echelons of the Syrian regime. The circles said they bore no relation to the situation on the cease-fire line where a few weeks ago the Syrians claimed they were shooting in order to prevent the Israelis from fortifying their positions. The fortifications were completed and the Syrians seemingly have had no further reason to start shooting, the circles said.

Some sources here suggested today that the Syrians are copying the Egyptian pattern of intensifying the shooting on the cease-fire lines preliminary to disengagement talks. But other sources said the heavy shelling of civilian settlements may have been a Syrian reaction to Premier Golda Meir’s statement last weekend that the Golan Heights were part and parcel of Israel and would never be given up and to the announcement of the establishment of a new Jewish township on the Heights. (See separate story) UN observers tried in vain yesterday to arrange a cease-fire. About three hours after the shelling began the fire-exchanges subsided.

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