TEL AVIV (Jul. 27)
Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Levy said today that a full-scale investigation had been launched into the killing of three Arab students and the wounding of 33 at the Islamic College in Hebron yesterday by masked gunmen. He told a press conference here that there was as yet no clear indication of who carried out the attack.
He said, “We are operating on two planes: first to prevent developments of disorder and attacks in the wake of the incident and second to investigate every direction to reveal who committed these murders.”
Gen. Ori Orr, regional commander of Israeli forces, said last night in a radio interview that the authorities have no description of the gunmen, whose faces were covered with the traditional Arab kafiyyas. “We don’t know who we are looking for,” he said, adding that the investigation into the incident will extend to both Arabs and Jews.
The three who were killed were identified by Israeli authorities as Saad Edin Hassan Sabri, Saad Nazal and Samih Fathi Daoud, all 30 years old. Sabri and Nazal were identified as West Bank school teachers who were taking summer courses at the Islamic College. Most of the injured were in their teens or 20’s.
ATTACK DENOUNCED BY ISRAELI LEADERS
Premier Menachem Begin was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the attack was a “despicable act.” Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben Meir declared: “I have no words to express my condemnation of this outrage and atrocity which was perpetrated by evil people in Hebron.” He pledged that the government “will do everything in its power to find the evil people responsible for this despicable act and bring them to justice.”
Orr said last night that he saw no immediate connection between the attack on the students and the stabbing death two weeks ago of Aharon Gross a 19-year-old yeshiva student. Gross was killed in the Hebron market place.
(In New York, the Herut Zionists of America, issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s attack on the Arab students:
(“The American public must understand that, while the government of Israel will uphold law and order in Zion, no institution can prevent such an action from being taken by individuals shocked and enraged by the world’s callous indifference to the brutal murder of yeshiva student Aharon Gross.
(” The horrifying murder of young Gross, an unassuming and upright student of Bible, has left shock waves throughout the world Jewish community. One such manifestation of the intensity of this feeling was yesterday’s incident in Hebron. We call for an end to the tragic cycle of violence and for the peaceful recognition by all parties concerned of the inalienable Jewish right to settle the width and breadth of liberated Judaea and San aria.”)
Levy told the press conference today that Jewish settlers in the West Bank should continue to carry weapons for self-protection. But he stressed that proper measures would be taken against any settlers misusing their weapons, an apparent reference to vigilante groups.
Meanwhile, the Israel army moved thousands of reinforcements into the West Bank today to maintain order after stone-throwing crowds stage demonstrations following the attack on the Islamic College. Hebron and neighboring villages, as well as the Nablus casbah, and the nearby Balata refugee camp were kept under curfew.
Palestinian activists called a two-day strike today, but it received only spotty support. In East Jerusalem all shops were closed and police patrolled the narrow streets and alleys. At Bir Zeit University, a center of Palestinian nationalism, several hundred students attempted a protest march along the Jerusalem-Ramallah highway, according to reports by security forces. Several students were wounded in the demonstration by security forces firing rubber bullets. Scores of students were held for questioning.
Israeli newpaper editorials today were unanimous in calling for a thorough investigation into yesterday’s attack. Many previous attacks on Arabs, including the 1980 car bombings of three West Bank mayors, have not been solved. These bombings took place after six Jews were ambushed and shot dead as they were returning to their homes from a synagogue in Hebron. Their killers have not been found and neither has the killer of Gross.