JERUSALEM (Nov. 19)
The three terrorists who attacked civilians in Beisan today came from Jordan and their murder mission was an authorized action of the top leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, not the act of an extremist splinter group opposed to Yasir Arafat, Information Minister Aharon Yariv said today. He said the terrorists’ tracks had been found at the Jordan River, only four miles east of Beisan and that discarded Jordanian cigarette cartons and meat tins were found at a camp site where the terrorists had stopped on their way to Beisan.
The onus is on Jordan to prove through its future actions that it was not involved in and did not encourage the attack on Beisan. Yariv said at a press conference here. He said that Israel would not conclude “at this stage” that Jordan had changed its position following the Arab summit conference at Rabat and now supported the terrorists. But it is up to Jordan to prove that it has, in fact, not changed its policy, Yariv said. He declined to discuss Israeli retaliation plans. if any, should it turn out that Jordan now backs the PLO.
Yariv said the fact that the Beisan attack was announced by the official organ of the PLO’s “Armed Struggle” this morning was additional proof of its authorship by the PLO. Col.Dov Sion, an army spokesman who appeared with Yariv at the press conference, said terrorist claims that they sought an “intelligence” target at Beisan was totally false. He said the township was populated largely by Jewish refugees from Arab lands and the identities of the dead and wounded showed clearly that the targets were innocent civilians.
The terrorists had leaflets and a bull horn with them, but they used neither, Sion reported. “We thought this was because they in fact failed to take any live hostages and were thus not in a bargaining position.” he said. The leaflets demanded the release of 14 prisoners and Greek Catholic Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, on trial in Jerusalem for smuggling arms to terrorists.
TERRORISTS WILL BE HIT
Sion confirmed, contrary to earlier reports, that enraged Beisan townspeople burned the corpses of two of the terrorists which were hurled from a window of the building they had occupied. He said this was done while police were occupied de-fusing explosive charges left behind by the terrorists. Yariv condemned that action in the government’s name. He said that no amount of understandable wrath could justify such conduct. He also warned against retaliatory action against Israeli Arabs and Arabs on the West Bank.
The Knesset rose for a minute’s silence today in memory of the Israeli civilians slain in Beisan. Defense Minister Shimon Peres said Israel would continue to strike at the terrorists wherever it could reach them. But he warned that no struggle is without sacrifices. This struggle, however, will be fought “without surrender, without shame and without hesitation.” he said.