NABLUS (Aug. 1)
Large forces of Israeli soldiers patrolled this West Bank town today in a concerted effort to find the killer of Albert Buchris, 32, who was fatally shot Tuesday as he was buying pitta in the old market place. By tonight there was no word of any progress in the investigation into his murder.
The city has remained under curfew since the killing, but it was lifted for two hours yesterday afternoon to allow the residents to stock up on food. Security forces sealed off one of the narrow alleys which the killer is suspected of having used as his escape route. Three stores next to the site where the killing occurred were also shut down.
As the main market place filled with people during the two hours the curfew was lifted, residents talked about the shooting, some of them offering theories as to why Buchris was shot.
Some said that the murder was an apparent revenge for the death of two residents of the nearby village of Tubal, in an explosion last weekend. Israeli security forces said the two were victims of a bomb that exploded as they were setting it. But some people in Nablus said they did not believe this version.
Others said the murder of Buchris might have been committed by one of the notorious killers released in the recent prisoner exchange who was allowed to remain in the area.
The local Najah University was also closed down by orders of the military authorities. One of the youths killed in the bomb explosion was a student at the university. The closing down of the school was immediately interpreted by residents here as a form of collective punishment.
But Shmuel Goren, Israel government coordinator of affairs in the administered territories, visited Nablus yesterday and denied that any collective punishment had been initiated. He said the curfew was merely to facilitate the search for Buchris’ killer. However, Goren conceded that in cases such as this one, the border line between collective punishment and operational necessities are often blurred.
Meanwhile, an out of service bus which until Tuesday served as a canteen in the yard of the military government headquarters at the entrance to the city stood empty. Until Tuesday afternoon, the canteen had been a focal point of culinary activity. Now it stands in eerie silence. It had been owned by Buchris.