JERUSALEM (Dec. 30)
Most members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee said today they favored reprisals against Abu Nidal’s splinter Palestinian terrorist group, which they believe was responsible for the attacks on El Al passenger facilities at the Rome and Vienna airports last Friday. The gunmen killed 18 people and wounded more than 110.
That sentiment prevailed among doves as well as hawks. The only differences were over when and how reprisals should be carried out by Israel. Nidal, who is reputedly a bitter foe of Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization from which he defected years ago, is believed to be protected by Libya, where he is said to have a base. He is also reported to maintain an office in Damascus.
Labor MK Micha Harish cautioned that reprisals must be carefully timed and, ideally, should be coordinated with other international action against terrorism. He said the events in Rome and Vienna gave Israel an opportunity to mobilize an international crackdown on terrorists.
Rabbi Haim Druckman, a hardliner of the religious party, Morasha, proposed assassination. “We have to try to kill Abu Nidal since we know he was responsible for what happened,” Druckman said, adding “he is just an animal and deserves to be killed.” The rabbi was less certain whether Israel should also “punish” Libya for harboring Abu Nidal.
Matityahu Peled, a leading dove of the Progressive List for Peace, agreed that Abu Nidal personally should be punished. He rejected assassination but suggested the terrorist leader could be apprehended by Israel.