TEL AVIV (Jun. 17)
Tens of thousands of rightwing political and religious militants demonstrated in Malchei Yisrael Square here last night demanding the death penalty for Arab terrorists and the immediate release of 20 alleged members of a Jewish terrorist underground currently on trial and others already serving sentences for acts of violence against Arabs on the West Bank.
The organizers of the demonstration, the Gush Emunim, told the cheering crowd that “this demonstration is bigger than Peace Now’s crowd of 400,000″ who demonstrated in the same square in September 1982 for a commission of inquiry to investigate the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps massacre. But seasoned observers estimated last night’s numbers at between 40-50,000. Police and municipal officials declined, as in the past, to estimate the numbers of people at political rallies.
(A few hundred supporters of the Gush Emunim demonstrated outside the Israel Consulate in New York yesterday to protest Israel’s recent release of 1,150 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for three Israeli soldiers held prisoner in Damascus. The demonstration, organized by a group called Justice Committee for Jewish Settlers, also demanded the death penalty for Arab terrorists and urged the Israel government not to negotiate with the Lebanese Shiite hijackers of a TWA plane who are presently holding American passengers hostage in Beirut.)
HIJACKING BLAMED ON TERRORIST RELEASE
The mass demonstration in Tel Aviv also referred to the hostage situation in Beirut where the Shiites are demanding that Israel release 700 Shiite prisoners captured in Lebanon in exchange for the Americans. Banners carried by the crowd claimed the TWA hijacking was a direct result of Israel’s release of Palestinian terrorists last month.
But mainly, speakers at the rally denounced Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir who ruled recently that the judicial process must run its course in the case of the alleged Jewish terrorists before the President can consider petitions for clemency. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, leader of the Gush Emunim in Kiryat Arba, accused Zamir of “one-sided bias against Jews and in favor of Arabs.”
Charges of bias were also leveled against the Israeli media, especially television which Levinger claimed “distorts justice like Zamir.” A gang of rowdies cut the cables of one television unit which was broadcasting the rally live.
29 RELEASED TERRORISTS ORDERED TO LEAVE
The organizers of the demonstration were careful to note at the outset that Zamir has ruled that no reference is allowed to the terrorist trial currently in progress. But this was ignored by several speakers, including the parents of some of the accused. The police took photographs of banners referring to the trial and the people carrying them. They indicated that legal action may be taken against them but no arrests were made.
It was announced meanwhile that 29 of the Palestinian terrorists released in the May 20 prisoner exchange will have to leave the West Bank by the end of this month because they were not legal residents of the territory at the time of their arrest. This was in fact part of the prisoner exchange deal conducted under the auspices of the International Red Cross, which allowed some 600 bona fide residents of the territory to return to their homes.
A number of the latter have left however due to threats and harassment by Jewish settlers. Col. Freddie Zachs, head of the civil administration in the West Bank, said at a press conference yesterday that so far none of the freed terrorists has been involved in illegal activities.