PARIS (Aug. 10)
Minister of Interior Gaston Defferre today implicated the Palestinian “Abu Nidal” group in yesterday’s terrorist attack in the heart of Paris’ Jewish quarter in which six people, including two American tourists, were killed and 22 were wounded. Defferre said today the terrorists had used the same weapons as those which had served in the attack on Israel’s Ambassador to London, Shlomo Argov, June 3 and in the attack against a Vienna synagogue last August. The Abu Nidal group, a pro-Iraqi Palestinian extremist faction, was responsible for both.
The minister, who had conferred throughout the day with senior police officers and the heads of France’s various intelligence services, said the terrorists had used Polish made “WZ-63″ submachine-guns which ballistic experts have identified as being the same, or highly similar, to those used in the London and Vienna attacks.
French police today arrested eight suspected members of the Direct Action extreme leftwing organization. Police said they were investigating the possibility that this organization might have given the terrorist hit-squad “logistical help” or extended some other form of assistance.
TWO AMERICANS AMONG THE VICTIMS
The American Embassy in Paris today announced that two of the victims, killed in yesterday’s attack in Goldenberg’s restaurant in the Marais section of the city, were American citizens, presumably tourists. One was identified as 30-year-old Anne Van Zanten, whose husband, David, 34, is among those seriously injured. The name of the other American victim has not been disclosed while awaiting notification to the family. The Van Zantens are not Jewish.
Altogether only a small number of Jews were among the injured and not a single Jew was killed. There were no Israelis among the wounded, the Israel Consulate in Paris said.
Police are still not even sure of how many terrorists were involved. Some eyewitnesses saw two, others four. Some of the restaurant’s survivors say the attackers first threw a hand grenade into the crowded restaurant before spraying it with machinegun fire.
Police now tend to believe these reports after autopsy examinations have shown that most of those killed in the restaurant itself, three men and two women, had suffered severe injuries in the lower part of their bodies.
In some cases, their legs were amputated by the flying shrapnel. All that the police are certain of is that the killers were professional, highly trained and determined to inflict as many casualties as possible.
INCREASED POLICE SECURITY
Police today increased their patrols in Jewish quarters as well as near Jewish and Israeli institutions. Riot police are also stationed near the Israel Embassy where Jewish organizations have called for a meeting later today.
Defferre had asked all organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, to cancel all public demonstrations in order to avoid the possibility of renewed bloodshed or fights. Eleven leftwing organizations, including the country’s largest trade union, the communist-controlled CGT, which had called for a “Stop the War in Lebanon” march through Paris, accepted his plea and cancelled their meeting.
The Jewish organizations said, however, the situation was too serious, and turned down Defferre’s request. They have scheduled Israel solidarity rallies this evening and tomorrow.
Thousands of horrified protests and messages of sympathy from all French political parties, groups and associations have been pouring in. Jewish organizations say that the public response of outrage has been unparalleled, but most Jewish organizations privately regret that practically none of these messages express sympathy or solidarity with Israel.
Even the opposition parties and the press have carefully avoided attacking the government on its Middle Eastern policy and its readiness to send troops to Beirut as part, the bulk, of the multinational force scheduled to ensure the PLO withdrawal from the besieged city.
Most of the press today attacked Israel for having accused the French government and the French media of responsibility for the attack by “having created an anti-Semitic climate in France.” The papers deny the allegations and Le Monde in a front page editorial implied that Israel’s acts are to blame and not the fact that the press reported them.
OFFICERS BOOED AND JEERED
Last night President Francois Mitterrand was greeted with catcalls and shouts of “shame” and “Mitterrand traitor” when he attended a religious service at the Rue des Rosiers Synagogue, near the scene of the attack. Several hundred people, mainly Jewish residents of the area, gathered in the streets after the attack. Tempers soon flared and the crowd, first softly, then ever louder, started shouting anti-government slogans.
Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, who come shortly after the terrorist attack to present the government’s condolences, was booed and jeered. His voice could barely be heard as he told the angry crowd: “France only wants peace. It is against violence, whether in the Middle East or Beirut and how much more so where Paris itself is concerned.”
Defferre, one of Israel’s staunchest friends within the Socialist administration, was also greeted with hostile slogans. The minister, who had flown to Paris from his hometown Marseilles to attend the religious service, told the crowd: “I cannot blame you for what you say. I understand your feelings and your anger.”
Pandemonium broke out when the President arrived. In spite of a police barricade, demonstrators managed to squeeze through While Kaddish was recited inside the small, centuries old synagogue, the shouts of the demonstrators–”Mitterrand, Oradour” and “Socialism, betrayal”–could be heard inside the building. After the ceremony Mitterrand drove to the city’s main hospital where close to 20 of the wounded are hospitalized, many in the intensive care ward.
French reporters covering the attack were insulted and at times manhandled by the angry crowd. “You (the reporters) are greatly responsible for what has taken place here,” said many of the participants.