Armed Kach Activists Enter Jail, Taunt Palestinians Being Questioned

A pair of activists in the militant Kach movement, one armed with an Uzi submachine gun, managed to enter the Petach Tikva jail Monday and menace two Palestinian leaders undergoing interrogation.

Police Commissioner Ya’acov Terner ordered a high-level investigation into what police sources admit was a serious lapse of security.

But no arrests were made, although the intruders, Tiran Pollack and Baruch Merzel, have long police records and have served time in prison for lawless behavior.

Kach, a movement founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, advocates the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and the administered territories.

The police station in Petach Tikva serves as national headquarters of the Serious Crimes Division. It was under heavy guard Monday night when Palestinian nationalists Faisal Husseini and Professor Hanan Ashrawi were brought from Jerusalem for questioning.

Guards were posted in advance of their arrival, to keep separate demonstrators from the right-wing Moledet and Tehiya parties and the leftist Peace Now movement.

When the antagonists began to jostle each other, the police rounded up several, including Pollack and Merzel. How the two slipped into the building is the subject of the investigation. They hurled threats and abuse at the two Palestinians until police intervened.

Various parties differed over how close the Kach pair got to the Palestinians. Police sources insisted the detainees were never in danger.

Pollack, who carried the Uzi, claimed he had no intention of doing physical harm.

Husseini and Ashrawi are among the small group of Palestinian activists and intellectuals who have met with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker on each of his several trips to Jerusalem between May and July.

They were brought in for questioning in connection with a meeting last week in London, where they allegedly had contact with officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in violation of Israeli law. The two were questioned separately and left under police escort after posting bail.

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