TEL AVIV (Jan. 14)
Security was tightened in northern Galilee today in the after math of a terrorist attack in the border town of Maalot yesterday morning. Israeli soldiers killed the three heavily armed terrorists who raided a guest house and convalescent center just before down in an attempt to seize hostages for the release of terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Miriam Alfasi, 31, of Beersheba was killed trying to escape through a window.
Two other women were injured in the same manner and a soldier, Cpl. Itzhak Ravivo; 20, was wounded in the ankle in a shoot-out with the terrorists. All were taken to Haifa Hospital for treatment.
Israeli troops were combing the border region today in an attempt to trace the route taken by the terrorists. They were the first to infiltrate Israel from south Lebanon since Israeli forces withdrew from that territory last spring and turned the task of policing it over to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Documents found on the bodies of the slain terrorists indicated that they belonged to Naif Hawatmeh’s Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This was confirmed in a terrorist radio broadcast from Beirut today.
(The State Department condemned the attack yesterday but did not identify the terrorists A Department spokesman said “We condemn this terrorist attack. There can be no justification of such acts which result in the death and injury of innocent persons. We extend our sympathy to the victims and their families.”)
EMBITTERED BY FAILURE OF UNIFIL
Israelis were embittered today by the apparent failure of UNIFIL to prevent terrorist incursion into Israel The assailants are believed to save passed through the region controlled by UNIFIL and the border strip patrolled by Maj. Sood Haddad’s Christian militia in order to reach Maalot Israeli military circles are convinced they were assisted by local villagers. Recent reports of a terrorist buildup in south Lebanon, sufficient to prompt the flight of many villagers north across the Litani River, only underscored the laxity of UNIFIL forces, Israeli circles said.
The fact that Maalot was the target had a profound psychological effect in Israel in May, 1974, that village four miles south of the Lebanese border was the scene of one of the worst terrorist massacres in Israel’s history. At that time, armed terrorists from Lebanon seized a school house where children on a hiking tour of Galilee were spending the night and slaughtered 28 of them during a battle with Israeli forces.
The guest house at Maalot served as both a resort and convalescent home, operated by Kupat Holim, the Histadrut sick-fund It was occupied yesterday by about 230 people, most of them elderly, and also by a group of Egged bus drivers with their families who were spending the weekend there. The terrorists managed to enter the three-story building undetected and took several hostages at gunpoint be fore they were confronted by Israeli soldiers.
EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT OF ATTACK
Ravivo, the hero of the hour, gave his account of the action from his hospital bed today He said he was in charge of a platoon that was staying overnight at the guest house At about 6:30 a.m. he and two other soldiers inspected the building as a matter of routine.
On the third floor 1 noticed a dork faced man with a large handbag, ” Ravivo said. “We asked him who he was He mumbled something in Arabic. At that moment the man grabbed a Kalatchnikof rifle he had concealed in a dark corner. 1 grabbed the rifle from him. Two other terrorists rushed up from the second floor and opened fire on us. We returned the fire. The first terrorist who was closest to us threw a hand grenade. 1 grabbed it and threw it back: It exploded killing the attacker. The other two raced downstairs and out of the building. They were gunned down by other soldiers about 150 yards from the door. Ravivo, the son of a police officer, was promoted to the rank of sergeant while hospitalized.
In unrelated incidents today, police sappers safely dismantled explosive devices planted by terrorists at soldier pick-up stations near Jerusalem and Ashdod. A booby-trapped hand grenade was discovered just outside Jerusalem on the T 1 Aviv highway An improvised pipe bomb in a plastic bag was found at a roadstop outside Ashdod.