Israel buried the victims of the Maalot massacre today as the entire northern area of the country was placed on alert against further terrorist outrages. The 20 teen-age students slain yesterday in the Netiv Meir school building in Maalot were laid to rest near the graves of other youthful terrorist victims–the children murdered in a school bus ambush at Avivim three years ago. The three members of the Cohen family murdered in Maalot and a soldier killed in yesterday’s assault on the terrorist-held school building were buried in separate graves.
Collective funeral services, with Israel’s chief rabbinate officiating, began at 4 p.m. local time in Safad, home of most of the victims. More than 10,000 persons converged on the tiny mountain hamlet in central Galilee, turning what is normally a peaceful resort town favored by artists and writers into a sea of fury and seething emotions.
Cries for vengeance and death to terrorists rang out over the anguished weeping and the chanted prayers for the dead. President Ephraim Katzir and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, representing the Israeli government and people at the funeral were unable to complete their addresses. As crowds surged forward, the Chief of State and Deputy Premier were forced to leave the scene behind cordons of police and security men.
As the nation was plunged into mourning in the aftermath of the worst terrorist outrage in Israel’s history, diplomatic efforts went on to reach an Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who cancelled his trip to Damascus yesterday because of the events at Maalot, flew to the Syrian capital this morning and was due back in Jerusalem tonight. Despite the fierce anger and bitterness engendered by Maalot, Israel insisted that disengagement diplomacy be continued if only to foil the terrorists’ intended aim of sabotaging the peace moves.
SHOCKED NATION ASKS QUESTIONS
Throughout the country, shocked and stunned citizens piecing together the reports of yesterday’s tragic events were asking why the school building in Maalot was left unguarded even though security authorities knew that terrorists had infiltrated Israel and were in the vicinity; why the youngsters were permitted to take their camping trip close to the Lebanese border at a time when terrorist acts were expected in connection with the 26th anniversary of Israel’s independence; and whether the frontal assault on the school building was the right way or the only way to try to save the hostages.
Premier Golda Meir refused to comment last night when she was asked bluntly on a television interview whether there had been no way to avoid the tragedy at Maalot.
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