JERUSALEM (Jan. 29)
Government and opposition leaders joined today in forcefully condemning an attempt to blow up Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, attributed to Jewish zealots.
The attempt was foiled by Israeli security forces who, after being summoned to the area by Moslem guards Friday, discovered 18 Israel army issue grenades and more than five kilograms of high explosives in and near the plaza which is the site of the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, two of the holiest shrines of Islam. The Israeli forces were alerted after the guards who patrol the holy places noticed two intruders using ropes and ladders to hoist boxes over the eastern wall of the compound.
Interior Minister Yosef Burg denounced the attempt as a contravention of “the basic principles of the State.” Justice Minister Moshe Nissim issued a similar statement. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sa’ad A-Din Al-Alami, sent a telegram to Premier Yitzhak Shamir yesterday protesting the attempted attack.
He urged that the authorities make every effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem visited the Mufti today and assured him that the majority of Jews in Israel and the administered territories deplored such acts.
LARGE-SCALE ATTACK INDICATED
Police said the quantity of explosives and grenades indicated that a “large-scale” attack was planned on Friday, the Moslem sabbath, when the Temple Mount would be crowded with worshippers. The attack would also have coincided with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s visit to Jerusalem.
Discovery of the explosives on the Temple Mount follows a series of incidents in recent months in which grenades or explosives detonated or were found in or near Moslem and Christian religious sites in Jerusalem and on the West Bank. In most of these cases, anonymous telephone callers claimed that a group calling itself “terror against terror” was responsible. No arrests have been made so far. Two yeshiva students associated with Rabbi Meir Kahane were detained by police last night but later released.
Meanwhile, the police have strengthened security in the Temple Mount area and are reportedly seeking more efficient warning systems against intruders.