JERUSALEM (May. 10)
Several suspects in the attempted sabotage of Arab-owned buses met with their lawyers today for the first time since their arrest last month.
The meeting took place in a prison in the Russian Compound here. Three lawyers attended. The number of suspects was not given. They are the first of the 25 men linked to a Jewish underground terrorist group on the West Bank allowed to consult with legal counsel. The law allows suspects to be held incommunicado during the early stages of a criminal investigation.
The meeting between lawyers and suspects was ordered by the Supreme Court after an appeal from the family of one of the detainees. This followed heavy pressure from settler groups on the West Bank. But it also indicated that the first stage of the investigation may have ended.
NEWS BLACKOUT CONTINUES
No information was released beyond the fact that lawyers and clients were meeting. The news blackout on the investigation remained in force. But the news media continued to report on various aspects of the case.
While there was no inkling what line the defense might take — should the suspects indeed be indicted — Voice of Israel Radio said today that the accused would admit planting time bombs in Arabowned buses in East Jerusalem but would insist that their intention all along was that the bombs should be discovered before they exploded.
The suspects will claim their act was intended only as a warning to the government to change its policies which they perceive to be too “soft” on Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories, Voice of Israel Radio said.
The newspaper Hadoshot reported today that a Lt. Col. from Kiryat Arba, the Gush Emunim stronghold adjacent to Hebron, organized the theft of weapons from an army base. The paper also reported that the police are in possession of the car used in the attack on the Islamic College in Hebron last July in which three Arab students were killed and 33 wounded. Maariv reported today that the arrest of five “spiritual leaders” of the Jewish underground is imminent.
The underground has been linked to the attack on the Islamic College and to the car bombing in June, 1980 which crippled Mayor Bassam Shaka of Nablus and Mayor Karin Khallaf of Ramallah, according to media reports.
SHAMIR DISASSOCIATES HIMSELF FROM NEEMAN’S REMARKS
Today, Premier Yitzhak Shamir dissociated himself from the remarks of Science Minister Yuval Neeman that the attempted assassination of the two mayors four years ago had some “positive aspects.” Neeman, leader of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya party, took the position that the attacks were justified because the mayors were pro-PLO agitators inciting violence against Israel.
His remarks created a furor and demands that he be removed from the Cabinet forthwith. Shamir’s response was relatively mild. He said only that Neeman’s views were contrary to his own.
But former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman joined Shinui MK Mordechai Virshubsky in urging Shamir to demand Neeman’s resignation. Former President Yitzhak Navon said he could not understand how a Cabinet minister could make statements condoning acts of terror.
NEEMAN MODIFIES HIS STATEMENT
Neeman repeated his remarks today, though somewhat modified. Speaking at a rally on the Golan Heights, he claimed there was a “major moral difference” between the attacks on the Islamic College where innocent people were killed and the attempted assassination of mayors Shaka and Khallaf.
He insisted, however, that he opposed individuals who took the law into their own hands. He dismissed the public outrage over his comments as proof that the media and the country’s political leaders are “captives of cliches.”