JERUSALEM (Jun. 25)
Two Israelis were brutally murdered by Arab assailants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday and an Israeli soldier was killed in a gun battle in the West Bank that left three Palestinians dead.
The bloodshed, the worst in weeks, interrupted the formation of a new government in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Knesset elections.
Yitzhak Rabin, leader of the victorious Labor Party, who is virtually certain to be the next prime minister, broke off coalition talks to warn terrorists that his regime would crack down “with all possible force” on inciters and killers.
The civilian victims were identified as Moshe Bino, 49, of Ashkelon and Ami Salzman, 59, from Ness Ziona, co-managers of the Al Kuba meat-packing plant in the Gaza Strip.
They were mortally wounded by four intruders who arrived by car and, pretending to be buyers, gained entry to the plant. Once inside they repeatedly stabbed their victims in the chest and back and fled.
An army doctor summoned to the scene tried vainly to save them but both men died shortly after being attacked. They brought to three the number of Israeli civilians stabbed to death by Arabs in the Gaza Strip since May 27.
The assault occurred less than a mile from Nahal Oz, where the Israel Defense Force has a base and a checkpoint controlling the movement of Palestinians in and out of Israel proper. Security forces immediately sealed off the area and began a search for the killers.
The packing plant, owned jointly by Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and the Israeli civil administration, is in a relatively quiet area where the movement of Israeli civilians is not restricted.
Rabin, who said the victims “were murdered to harm the chances of peace,” told Labor Party officials that “anyone who thinks a government headed by us will not deal with terror in all its forms is making a bad mistake.”
Likud hardliner Ariel Sharon claimed Thursday that if a Rabin government pulled out of the Gaza Strip, terrorist activity would rise to the level of the 1950s, when the territory was controlled by Egypt.
The military fatality occurred when an undercover IDF squad exchanged fire with four armed Palestinians in Arraba, a village near Jenin in the West Bank. One of the Palestinians escaped.
IDF sources said the Palestinians belonged to the Red Eagle group of George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and had been on the wanted list for murder since 1990.