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Reactions to Rocket Attack on an Arab Bus Runs the Gamut from Outrage and Revulsion to Praise

The rocket attack yesterday, apparently by Jewish extremists, on an Arab bus here in which one young man was killed and 10 other persons were wounded, produced the predictable gamut of reactions today–from stonethrowing at the Daheisha refugee camp, to outrage and condemnation from politicians of most parties, to praise from Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party.

Early radio reports last night that police had arrested three Jews close to the scene of the attack proved inaccurate, or at least premature for the time being. The police has no one under arrest today.

Police Minister Haim Barlev, a former army Chief of Staff, condemned the laxity in the army which enabled the rocket launcher to find its way into the hands of “fanatics.” He called on the military authorities to tighten up security in this respect. The rocket launcher is widely used by the infantry.

(In the ongoing campaign by the Israel Defense Force to have stray equipment returned to the army, which has lasted throughout this month, scores of rifles, mortors, grenades and other lethal weapons have been brought back to the police stations and army camps across the country. The campaign enables people to return army equipment with “no qustions asked.” The IDF announced that the amnesty period for returning weapons will end November I and that after that date it will conduct an intensive search-and-prosecute effort against recalcitrants.)

Yesterday’s attack was the first such anti-Arab incident since last April when police thwarted an attempt by Jewish extremists to plant bombs on Arab-owned buses in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Subsequently, 25 Jews were arrested and are subsequently on thrial in connection with several attacks on West Bank Arabs during the past three years.

STATEMENTS BY VARIOUS POLITICAL PERSONALITIES

Reacting to yesteday’s attack, Barlev said “We do not think (apprehending) the Jewish underground case suspects was the end of the matter. The security authorities are continuing to follow the doings of these crazies.” In a televison interview, he called for “immediate” Knesset legislation that would specifically outlaw racist actions and statements — and thereby render Kahane’s utterances illegal.

Justice Minister Moshe Nissim said that “no one has the right to act in place of the govermmet —- The hand of the law will reach these criminals.” Defense Minister yitzhak Rabin called the attack a “repulsive act of violence against innocents.” Minister-Without-Portfolio Yosef Shapiro of Morasha, called the attack “an act of lunacy and irresponsibility. This is no revenge but an indiscriminate act of violence against innocent people.”

A handwritten note in Hebrew found near the rocket launcher declared that the attack was an act of revenge for the murder of an Israeli man and woman who had been hiking near Beit Jalla, outside Jerusalem. Police said the suspect in that execution-style shooting admitted the crime and said he had done it out of nationalistic motives. Rabbi Moshe Levinger of Hebron, a leader of West Bank Jewish settlers, said yesterday’s bus attack was “a result of the government’s weakness in security in Judaea and Samoria. We keep calling for a tough policy and the death penalty for terrorists.”

Kahane declared: “May the hands which did this be strengthened… It was a brave and noble act.”

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