TEL AVIV (Aug. 26)
Supporters of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement today prevented four Knesset members from approaching the Tel Mond prison, cursing them and pummelling them and accusing them of being PLO and terrorist supporters.
The MKs — Mordechai Virshubski of Shinui, Yair Tsaban of the Labor Alignment, Mordechai Bar-On of the Citizens Rights Movement, and Bennie Shalita of Likud — were seeking to ascertain that suspected members of the Jewish underground, not being tried for anti-Arab activities and attempts to damage Moslem sites on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, were not receiving preferential treatment in the prison.
Virshubski had told Interior Minister Yosef Burg last week that he intended to visit the Tel Mond prison, along with other MKs, to fulfill their legal right to inspect prison conditions. The underground members were given special facilities while being held in Jerusalem, and since their transfer to Tel Mond have been visited and encouraged by a number of rightwing Knesset members.
Kahane and his followers announced last week that they would prevent the MKs from entering the prison today. When the four parliamentarians arrived at the prison gates they were surrounded by between 20 and 30 Kahane supporters, many of them wearing yellow shirts with the Kach emblem on them. Among the demon-strators was the family of an Israel Defense Force soldier who was killed by terrorists in the West Bank two weeks ago. The PLO has claimed responsibility for the murder.
Israel Radio reporters played back tape recorded threats by the demonstrators who could be heard yelling “terrorists,” “PLO lovers, “we will smash in your faces … We will break your legs.” Reporters also described how the four MKs were beaten.
But police denied that any physical violence had occurred and Burg said he had not been informed of any violence. If there had been, he added, the police should have intervened. However, according to reporters present, prison guards behind the gates stood by passively as the MKs were being pummelled and refused to allow the MKs into their office to communicate with Ministers and senior officers in Jerusalem.
After a half hour of tumult the Sharon district police deputy inspector, Kalman Bomstein, arrived. He later told Israel Radio that he had plainclothes policemen in the crowd and had come as soon as he thought police reinforcements were warrented.
Abba Eban, the temporary Knesset Speaker, said he was informed of the incident by Virshubski and would ask Burg, who is also Police Minister, for his official version of the affair.