Menu JTA Search

Behavior of Egyptian Officials in the Sinai Mass Killings Evokes Anger

Anger is rising in Israel over the behavior of Egyptian officials in the killing of seven Israeli tourists, four of them children, by a berserk Egyptian in Sinai last Saturday. Five of the victims were buried today.

Eyewitness accounts carried by the published and broadcast media hold the officials responsible for at least some of the deaths by delaying for five hours the removal of wounded Israelis from the site of the shooting to an Egyptian medical station for treatment.

According to the witnesses, Egyptian security men prevented Israelis from going to the aid of the victims. Israeli doctors were quoted as saying the victims not killed outright may have died from loss of blood because of delayed treatment.

There is also strong suspicion here that the gunman was an Egyptian soldier, not a member of the Sinai security police as Egyptian authorities say. The 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty forbids the presence of soldiers in the area of eastern Sinai where the killings occurred.

Acting Foreign Minister Moshe Arens has demanded from Egypt detailed replies to a series of questions about the incident within 48 hours and a full account of the official inquiry Cairo says it is conducting.

AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

Israel wants to know why the berserk man possessed an automatic rifle with which he fired at the tourists inasmuch as Egyptian police may carry only sidearms and less lethal personal weapons. Israel wants a full explanation why medical aid to the victims was delayed and why the man who ran amok was not quickly overpowered by other armed Egyptian officers in the vicinity.

That point was raised in the detailed eyewitness account of the attack by David Bernstein, a senior member of the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post who was on one of his frequent outings to Sinai with his family when the tragedy occurred.

Bernstein was on the beach at Ras Burka when the gunman opened fire on the Israelis from a hilltop. He said today that other Egyptian soldiers at a nearby post did nothing to stop or overpower the man. He also said Israeli vehicles trying to leave Sinai were prevented from travelling north to the Taba border checkpoint although Egyptian vehicles were allowed to pass.

FUNERAL SERVICES HELD

Funeral services were held in Jerusalem today for the three members of one family killed in the shooting rampage. The coffins of Jerusalem Magistrate Haman Shelah, his wife, Ilana, and their 12-year-old daughter, Zelil, lay in state outside the Supreme Court building. They were buried at Kibbutz Nachsholim. Two other young victims, Dinah Berri, 12, and Amir Baum, 10, were buried in Jerusalem.

Funeral services will be held later for Anita Griffel, 35, and Ofra Gila Turel, 12.

Speaking at the memorial ceremony at the Supreme Court building, Justice Minister Moshe Nissim said the Sinai attack had been cold-blooded murder and not a minor incident as depicted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He noted that, according to first reports, the lives of the victims might have been saved by timely medical aid.

Feelings of bitterness toward the Egyptians were hardly mollified by a television clip shown here last night of American reporters questioning Mubarak about the shootings. Mubarak, interviewed on a Cairo street, seemed to shrug off the attack as a small incident, the work of a madman and of no importance.

NEXT STORY