TEL AVIV (Aug. 1)
Yesterday’s bomb alert in the Haifa market place was an exercise ordered by the police high command to test the efficiency of the police and the response of the public without the prior knowledge of either, it was disclosed today. A “bomb” was planted in the market, it was spotted by a vendor and police sappers did detonate the device after clearing the area.
The device was not a bomb but a harmless explosive which sounded like a bomb, police sources revealed. Only the top echelon of the police was aware of this and the men who responded to the bomb warning and the civil guard who evacuated the market were deliberately kept in the dark. So was the news media. Kol Israel Radio reported a terrorist act narrowly averted. Today, the embarrassed radio management was investigating why the report was broadcast without first checking with the authorities.
Meanwhile, security circles expressed satisfaction today that the public was indeed alert and that the police responded swiftly and effectively. The exercise was apparently ordered because of the recent wave of terrorist bombings in urban market places which caused more than 40 casualties in the past two weeks. Only last Friday, police announced the arrests of eight terrorist suspects in Nablus and Ramallah believed responsible for the outrages. Some observers noted today that in the future, the public might mistake a genuine bomb threat for another security exercise.