JERUSALEM (Jul. 10)
Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin emerged from seclusion Sunday to add his voice to those of current Israeli leaders condemning the random violence against Arabs that has broken out since the July 6 bus disaster that claimed 14 lives and injured 27.
There have been numerous reports of attacks against Arab civilians in Israel and the administered territories, since the July 6 incident, when an Arab from the Gaza Strip seized the steering wheel of an Egged passenger bus, forcing the vehicle to topple into a ravine, where it caught fire.
Police reported Sunday night that 27 Israelis had been arrested for revenge assaults on Arabs.
Begin, 75, has been a virtual recluse since his surprise resignation in 1983. Although sought out constantly by the media, he rarely makes public statements.
But the former leader of Likud and its hard-line Herut faction told Israel Television Sunday night that while the “abhorrent crime” shocked every Israeli, violent reactions will only deepen the hatred between Jews and Arabs.
Begin did not appear on the screen. His statement was read by his spokesman and confidant, Yehiel Kadishai.
President Chaim Herzog issued a similar appeal for restraint when he spoke Sunday at the funeral of Moshe Kol, a former Cabinet minister and one of the signers of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Kol died Saturday at the age of 87.
Herzog warned that violence breeds violence and fanatical racism causes endless hatred and enmity.
SHAMIR APOLOGIZES TO ARABS
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir also condemned the attacks on Arabs.
Interviewed Sunday for Israel Television’s Arabic-language program, Shamir said, “I am sorry for the attacks. These are irresponsible acts that do not help anyone, bring chaos to our land and do not hurt the Arabs in the end anyway.”
The violence appeared to be fading by Monday. On Sunday afternoon, mounted police charged stone-throwing Israelis who rioted at the funeral of one of the bus victims, Moshe Shapiro, 74.
The mob, chanting “death to Arabs,” was dispersed by the police, who made 11 arrests.
One anti-Arab reprisal that may have further repercussions occurred Saturday on the beach at Caesarea.
Several Jewish roughnecks attacked and severely beat three Israeli Arabs from Baka al Gharbiya. According to witnesses, a border police unit at the beach observed the attack, but did nothing to stop it.
Police announced late Sunday night that four residents of Or Akiva were suspects. Or Akiva, a development town adjacent to the affluent township of Caesarea, is a hotbed of right-wing militants.
Knesset member Yossi Sarid of the left-wing Citizens Rights Movement sent a telegram Sunday to Police Commissioner David Kraus, demanding an immediate investigation of the border police officers who failed to rescue the Arabs under attack.