TEL AVIV (Apr. 15)
Mystery surrounds Tass reports that a Soviet airliner carrying Jews to Israel was the target of a Palestinian terrorist attack in Cyprus.
Israeli and Cypriot authorities said they had no information about the alleged incident.
Soviet airliners, moreover, do not fly to Israel.
The official Soviet news agency reported Friday, nonetheless, that an Aeroflot jet carrying Jewish immigrants to Israel was attacked by Palestinians.
An amended version issued later by Tass referred to an attempted attack on an aircraft carrying Soviet Jews on a scheduled flight to Israel via Cyprus.
The report said, “After closing the airport, police escorted passengers to the port of Limassol, where they took a ferry to Israel.”
Israeli government and Jewish Agency officials noted that Cyprus is not a way station for Soviet Jews immigrating to Israel.
But according to recent reports, Soviet Jews and non-Jews traveling to Israel as tourists buy return flights between Moscow and Cyprus and travel the short leg between Cyprus and Israel by ferry or local air services.
The Soviet tourists arc said to buy duty-free television sets, videotape recorders and stereos, which they leave under bond at the Cyprus airport, to be picked up on their return trip.
Those items can be resold in the Soviet Union for more than the cost of the trip.