JERUSALEM (May. 29)
The killing of two captured bus hijackers was a deviation from the normal behavior of Israeli security forces when they deal with terrorists, Premier Yitzhak Shamir told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee today.
He was commenting on the findings of the Defense Ministry’s special investigations committee, headed by Gen. (Res.) Meir Zorea, that two Arab terrorists were bludgeoned to death while undergoing interrogation after Israeli troops freed the passengers of the hijacked bus in the Gaza Strip early on April 13. Shamir said the inquiry was set up to prevent similar behavior in the future.
In the war against terrorists, the security forces face moments when they must display courage, selfcontrol and discipline, Shamir said. Usually they meet those challenges, he observed.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who established the Zorea committee after the media claimed that two of the four slain hijackers were taken alive, said on a television interview today that its report cleared him and Chief of Staff David Levy of any responsibility for the actions of some security personnel on the spot. “Neither the Chief of Staff nor I was at the site when what happened happened. Neither the Chief of Staff nor I knew what had happened,” Arens said.
The defense chief may have found it necessary to stress that point today because he himself had announced the official version of the incident at the time, saying that two of the hijackers were slain when Israeli troops stormed the bus and two others died shortly afterwards of their wounds. The Zorea report contradicts that version.