TEL AVIV (Apr. 10)
After a 24-hour search in the Ashdod-Ashkelon area, police tonight concluded that the report that terrorists had landed on the southern Israel coast was a hoax. Betore the search was called off it involved thousands of men in the army, police, border guard and civil guard. Many residents of Ashkelon spent the night in air raid shelters.
The cruel hoax began when an employe of the Israeli Agricultural Export Company (Agrexco) heard someone saying over the company car radio, “Help, terrorists are attacking us. they have killed the woman near me. Help, they are coming.” When the worker tried to communicate with whoever was talking over the radio he was unable to do so but then the voice came on again in Hebrew with an Arabic accent, “We shall slaughter you,” it said. “We are Palestinian guerillas. We are going towards Ashkelon.”
The last part of the conversation was also heard by police and within minutes emergency procedures went into effect and roadblocks were set up from Rishon le Zion south to Ashkelon. The army had a news blackout on the incident and the first report did not come over the army radio station until midnight, three hours after the alleged event. The army station was the only one broadcasting news, because of the strike of radio and television journalists.
With no official information available there were numerous rumors as people telephoned each other. The army had advised against urging the civilian population to go into shelters but in Ashkelon some people used loudspeakers urging the residents there to go to the shelters. The police advised them to leave.