JERUSALEM (Oct. 3)
The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee yesterday overwhelmingly approved of Tuesday’s Israel Air Force raid on Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunisia and sent an official message of congratulations to the Israel Defense Force for planning and executing the precision bombing of targets 1,500 miles from Israel.
Only one committee member dissented. Yossi Sarid of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) maintained that while the action against terrorists was morally justified, it was misguided politically and may have de-railed yet another opportunity for peace talks with the Arabs.
But Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who briefed the committee on the attack, said he was confident that Egypt would soon resume the talks on the Taba border dispute which it suspended Tuesday in anger over Israel’s action. Rabin insisted that Israel was not aiming specifically at PLO chief Yasir Arafat or any other individual PLO leader.
Arafat’s residence among the complex of buildings which made up the PLO’s military and political headquarters at a beach resort 20 miles south of Tunis, was destroyed in the air raid. But Arafat was not there at the time. Mohammed Natour, known as Abu Taef, commander of El Fatah’s Force 17group, was not killed, contrary to an early report from Tunis which put him among the some 60 PLO dead.
According to reports from Tunis, the main building which served as the PLO’s political and administrative office was razed to the ground, as were adjacent buildings, mostly the homes of PLO officials. The communications center received a near miss which put the PLO’s telephone and telex network out of commission.