JERUSALEM (Jun. 1)
An investigation appears inevitable into allegations that a “senior official” obstructed justice in the case of the unexplained deaths of two Arab terrorists who were captured alive by the Israel Defense Force after they hijacked a bus two years ago.
Sources here said over the weekend that Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir would begin his probe by launching a police investigation as soon as the Inspector General of Police, David Kraus, returns from a trip abroad later this week. Zamir is more determined than ever to press the case, the sources said. He received considerable support from Gen. (res.) Meir Zorea who headed the initial inquiry into the case.
Although not publicly identified, the “senior official” who Zamir contends suborned witnesses to perjury, fabricated evidence and introduced false testimony is generally acknowledged to be Avraham Shalom, head of Shabak, Israel’s internal security and counter-espionage service commonly known as Shin Bet.
SHAMIR REFUSES TO DISCUSS AFFAIR
The matter has the makings of a major government scandal because an investigation would have to determine, among other things, whether the Prime Minister had knowledge of the terrorists’ mysterious deaths and subsequent alleged cover-up. At the time of the bus hijack, in April, 1984, Yitzhak Shamir, now Foreign Minister and a Deputy Premier, headed the Likud-led government.
Shamir has refused to discuss the affair which remains shrouded in official secrecy. “I can’t go into details,” he told reporters Friday. “I am prevented from doing so. I knew what a Premier ought to know and acted accordingly,” he said. The head of Shabak is responsible directly to the Premier.
An investigation therefore would pose the questions: if the Premier had no knowledge of the alleged offense, why was he in the dark; and if he knew, why did he fail to act?
Incumbent Premier Shimon Peres who took office several months later would also be faced with the same questions of knowledge ability and failure to take action.
VARIED INTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAW
According to the media, which has been the only source of public information since the affair broke a week ago, Peres, Shamir and almost all of the senior Cabinet ministers believe the matter should be dropped in the interests of national security and morale. But Zamir insists that the case represents a confrontation between those who believe in the rule of law and those who maintain that the law must be bent when national security is at stake.
Gen. Zorea upheld Zamir’s position in a television interview last Thursday night. “The gravest danger to the security of the State is false reports in the security system,” he said. “If lies penetrate the security services, in my view, this is the end of the State.”
He added however that he did not feel he had been misled at the original inquiry because nothing has been proven yet. Nevertheless, he stressed, an investigation is necessary. He said it should be conducted in absolute secrecy but the results should be made public. “If the security services lie, then order should be introduced there,” Zoria said. He called for the creation of a State commission of inquiry.