Widespread Manhunt Launched for the Killer of a British Tourist

Israeli security forces are engaged in a massive manhunt for a lone killer who fatally shot a British tourist in the Old City Sunday. The murder was the fourth attack on foreign visitors and Israelis in the Old City in the past two months and the second to result in death. It has contributed to a sharp decline of tourism that has the industry worried.

Security sources are convinced that Paul Appelby, 28, from Bristol, was the victim of an assailant who approaches his targets closely and fires an 0,22 caliber pistol point blank into their heads. Appelby was killed by a bullet fired into the base of his skull as he was about to enter the Garden Tomb, the burial place of Jesus according to Protestant tradition.

The previous fatality occurred on April 13 when a Jewish business woman was found shot to death in her office not far from the Garden Tomb. On March 7, an American Jewish tourist, David Blumenfeld, a Conservative rabbi from Long Island who is executive director of the New York City Holocaust Memorial Commission, was wounded by a gunshot to his head while walking alone on David Street in the Old City. On April 16, a German woman tourist sustained a slight shoulder wound as she and her husband were entering a Christian shrine in the Old City.

SAYS MURDER WAS A TERRORIST ACT

Premier Shimon Peres vowed Sunday that no efforts would be spared to apprehend Appelby’s killer and prevent future attacks. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir called the murder a terrorist act and pledged that Israel would fight terrorism until it is outrooted. Mayor Teddy Kollek said, “What happened in Jerusalem is part of what is happening in Paris, Rome, London and other places in the world. The world must understand that this is an all-out war in which terror is attacking democracy and the free world.” But some sources here believe that Appleby’s killer, who may also be responsible for the other attacks, is not necessarily linked to a specific terrorist organization but is simply out to frighten tourists away from Israel.

The worldwide wave of terrorism since the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro just outside Egyptian waters last October and the attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports late last year, among other incidents, has had a severe impact on tourism to the Middle East and Europe. Terrorist acts and threats since the U.S. air strike on Libya April 14 has contributed further to the fears of would-be travellers, especially Americans.

Jerusalem hotel managers complained Monday that American tourism to Jerusalem has fallen by nearly 50 percent this year. Americans account for some 80 percent of the tourist business here. Tourism authorities believe that little can be done to improve the situation until current Mideast tensions abate. But they are urging better efforts to explain to potential tourists that if there is a terrorist attack in one part of the region, it does not necessarily affect Israel.

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