TEL AVIV (Aug. 7)
A special commission has completed its year-long investigation into the deaths of two terrorists who participated in the hijacking of an Egged bus near Ashkelon in April, 1984, and presented its findings to the Attorney General. He will decide what charges, if any, should be filed against Israel Defense Force personnel implicated in the hijackers’ deaths.
Israel Radio reported yesterday that the investigators had suggested that Brigadier General Yitzhak Mordechai, chief infantry and paratroop officer at the hijacking scene, should not be charged with manslaughter. But it added that he may be charged with the use of force and improper conduct during an interrogation.
The IDF has declined to comment on the radio report. It has unofficially suggested, however, that the circumstances at the time — when the army thought it likely that the terrorists had left other explosives on the bus — should be taken into consideration.
HIJACKERS SEIZED BUS TO ASHDOD
The situation arose when four terrorists seized a bus on the way from Tel Aviv to Ashdod. During the rescue of the passengers, as the bus was stormed by a crack IDF unit, two of the four hijackers were killed aboard the vehicle.
Newsmen present, including cameramen, saw Mordechai leading the other two attackers away from the scene. One paper, Koteret Rashit, violated censorship regulations by printing pictures of this action.
The IDF and then Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who was at the scene at the time, announced that all four terrorists had been killed in the rescue operation.
When the pictures and eye-witnesses proved that two terrorists were alive when led away to a nearby interrogation tent, a public demand arose for an investigation.
Three commissions investigated the incident. The first established that the two men had been alive when taken off the bus. The second prepared a file for the Attorney General. The final commission was a legal body appointed by the Attorney General to examine the entire affair and report to him, which it has now done.
Tehiya Party chairman Yuval Ne’eman charged that Zamir intends to file charges against Mordechai, although in actuality no such intention has been announced yet. This intention, he said “proves that any connection between the legal establishment in Israel and justice is purely coincidental.” He continued:
“The legal establishment tangles with those who are protecting the lives and safety of the citizens instead of those who commit murders. It could not happen in any other country in the world except Israel.”