TEL AVIV (Mar. 23)
The 84 Bosnian Moslem refugees brought to Israel in a mercy operation a month ago are to be housed in Kibbutz Beit Oren on Mount Carmel for the remainder of their stay here.
The refugees were first supposed to have been sheltered by the Israeli Arab villages of Tira and Umm el-Fahm.
But Israeli Arab leaders withdrew their support for the government’s plan, after having first pressed for the opportunity to rescue Moslem orphans from the fighting in the former Yugoslavia.
The Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian leaders had reportedly pressured the Israeli Arabs to withdraw their offer of aid for fear they would be helping boost Israel’s public image and draw attention away from the conflict with the Palestinians.
The Bosnian refugees were already on their way to Israel, with the cooperation of the French Jewish community, which had chartered aircraft for the mercy flight, when news was received of the Tira and Umm el-Fahm withdrawal.
Under hastily arranged procedures worked out by Environment Minister Yossi Sarid, of Meretz, the families were housed, upon their arrival February 15, at the field school of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel near Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael.
Some of the refugees have already been provided with work with the Jewish National Fund and on nature conservation projects at the nearby Ma’agan Michael nature reserve.
But under a new agreement worked out over the weekend between Sarid’s Environment Ministry, which is dealing with the refugees, and Kibbutz Beit Oren, the Bosnian families are to be housed in vacant apartments at Beit Oren.