JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Premier Menachem Begin vowed today that Israel will avenge the deaths of the men, women and children slain in Saturday’s terrorist attack and held the Soviet Union, its Communist bloc allies and other countries that support the PLO to blame for the carnage.
“Innocent blood will not be shed with impunity,” Begin told a somber Knesset during a brief discussion of the terrorist attack. “We will defend our womenfolk and children. We will root out the prospect of an evil hand being raised against our children. We will do what is incumbent upon us to do, ” he said.
His determination to take some action against the terrorists received encouragement from the opposition Labor Alignment. Former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, speaking for Labor, said, “Obviously we cannot go on as if nothing has happened. This (the Knesset) is not the place, of course, to discuss detailed measures….But we wouldn’t be ourselves if we went on as if nothing had happened. We must take defensive action to smash them (the terrorists) wherever we can reach them,” Allon declared.
A resolution adopted by acclamation at the close of the session referred to the need to continue the peace-making process despite Saturday’s outrage. It called on all countries to condemn the terrorist group that perpetrated it. The resolution did not include a call for an investigation of how Israel’s security forces had reacted in the emergency. Labor had asked for such a statement but coalition members insisted that it be omitted.
Nevertheless, Begin said there would be an investigation into aspects of the attack. Sources said later that a military committee would be set up within the defense establishment by Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and a civilian panel by Interior Minister Joseph Burg in cooperation with the Police Ministry. It was announced tonight that Gen. Yona Efrat will head the military committee which will include a senior officer of the navy and a senior officer of the air force. The appointments were made by Chief of Staff Morde chai Gur upon the instruction of Defense Minister Weizman. The committee is expected to conclude its work by March 20.
SAYS COMMUNISTS TRAINED KILLERS
Begin told the Knesset that Israel had information that the Soviet Union and other Communist bloc countries have been training PLO members in the use of weapons on Soviet and Soviet bloc soil. “I accuse the states which have actively aided the PLO and the many others that have passively condoned or applauded the PLO over the years,” Begin said. He demanded that PLO offices in overseas capitals be closed down and PLO personnel ousted. “Can there be any doubt in any leader’s mind of the true nature of that organization?” Begin asked.
The Premier will attend the funeral of one of the terrorists’ victims tomorrow. More victims were buried today, all in state funerals conducted by military chaplains. Joseph and Cate Sousinski were interred in Ashdod. Rina and Dov Bushkenitz were buried in Haifa. Yaacov Paz, a Tel Aviv University student who worked as a part-time policeman, was buried at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery near Tel Aviv. A five-year-old boy was laid to rest in Tiberias. Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Itzhak Peretz read a poem by Bialik over the grave. The verse said, “Even Satan has not invented a revenge for the blood of a small boy.”
The Army Burial Society is still trying to identify some of the victims burned beyond recognition when the terrorists exploded their hijacked bus. Identification problems are believed responsible for discrepancies in the final death toll. The original reports said 37 died. Today, the figure was broken down to 28 Israelis and nine terrorists. But Police Inspector General Haim Tavori insisted that 32 Israelis perished. Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor told newsmen that 34 Israelis were slain.