JERUSALEM (Feb. 14)
An Islamic fundamentalist group active in the intifada has condoned the Feb. 4 terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Egypt as a possible way to deter Soviet Jews from immigrating to Israel.
A new leaflet circulated by the organization, known as Hamas, says the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union poses “the gravest danger to the Palestinians.”
It is not Hamas, but the smaller and even more fanatical Islamic Jihad that has belatedly claimed credit for the attack on the tour bus, in which nine Israelis and two Egyptians were killed. Eighteen Israelis were injured.
A leaflet issued Wednesday, 10 days after the attack, said a strike force of the Islamic Jihad, called the Force of the Hero Misbah a-Suri, was responsible.
Misbah a-Suri was a Moslem fundamentalist killed in a clash with Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip before the intifada began.
The leaflet justified the attack, saying the bus was filled with Israeli reserve officers, soldiers and “Zionist spies.”
It also criticized Soviet immigration to Israel and the ostensible readiness of the Palestine Liberation Organization to reach a settlement with Israel.
Unlike the Islamic Jihad, which has been active in Lebanon, the much larger Hamas is relatively new and indigenous to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
It originated in Gaza, shortly after the Palestinian uprising started on Dec. 9, 1987, and spread to the West Bank to contest the PLO’s control of the intifada.
In another leaflet distributed Wednesday, Hamas said it is ready to cooperate with the intifada’s unified command, headed by the PLO.
As a condition, it wants the PLO to see to it that Hamas inmates of Israeli detention camps get the same treatment as PLO inmates.