LONDON (Jun. 6)
A hospital bulletin at noon (local time) today said Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov remained unconscious but in a stable condition. The 53 year-old envoy to Britain and Ireland was shot in the head in an assassination attempt late Thursday night as he left a London hotel.
He underwent brain surgery early Friday at London’s National Hospital for Nervous Diseases to remove a blood clot and bone fragments caused by a single bullet which pierced his head.
Today’s bulletin said doctors were able to observe leg movements “when the transient effects of the paralyzing drugs wear off.” Yesterday, Dr. Norman Grant, the neurosurgeon who performed the operation, said that if Argov recovered he might be left with some degree of paralysis affecting the left side of his body and the field of vision of his left eye.
Argov was leaving a dinner for the diplomatic corps at the Dorchester Hotel when an assailant, described as a young Arab walked up and shot him with an automatic weapon. The assailant, later identified as a Jordanian, was himself wounded by Argov’s bodyguard, a British police officer. He was treated at a hospital and released in the custody of police.
Police are holding four other suspects in connection with the assassination attempt. Three of them were originally described as Palestinians travelling on false passports. Two of the passports were Jordanian and the other Iraqi. Later reports said a Jordanian and a Iraqi were caught in a get-away car and a Syrian suspect was picked up in a suburban house Friday. A fifth suspect, identified as an Iranian, was arrested Saturday. Israel holds the Palestine Liberation Organization responsible for the attempted killing. The PLO has denied involvement.
Visitors to the hospital today included Argov’s son and two daughters. Also at the hospital is an Israeli neuro-surgeon, Prof. Aharon Heller, who flew here yesterday. He told reporters he has confidence in the treatment being given the Ambassador.
But there was strong criticism in many quarters of the security arrangements at the diplomatic dinner. One attendant told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that there was little sign of a police presence as the ambassadors of many countries left the hotel after the dinner.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth has sent a personal letter of sympathy to Argov’s wife, Hava, a Buckingham Palace spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The letter was sent yesterday.
A message of concern is also believed to have been sent by Prince Charles on behalf of himself and the Princess of Wales.