JERUSALEM (Sep. 24)
Foreign Minister Golda Meir summoned United Nations truce supervisor Maj. Gen. E. L. M. Burns to her office today to protest yesterday’s wanton killing of three Israelis and the wounding of 15 others when Jordanian troops in the Jerusalem area opened fire on a party of several hundred people attending an archaeological lecture at Ramath Rachel. Mrs. Meir rejected Jordan’s “preposterous claim” that a Jordanian soldier had suddenly gone berserk and fired a Bren gun at the crowd.
At the same time, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement charging that the Jordan version of the attack contradicted the facts as revealed by an investigation of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission. Both Israeli and non-Israeli witnesses gave testimony to the MAC team and said they had made out two machine guns firing, in addition to a single rifle, the Foreign Ministry noted.
The shooting lasted at least 90 seconds, which is beyond the 20-round capacity of a single Bren gun, it was pointed out. The number of casualties also disproves the assertion that only one attacker was involved, the Foreign Ministry said, expressing surprise that the UN truce organization would give currency to this explanation.
A communique issued by United Nations truce headquarters last night reported that the senior Jordan delegate to the Mixed Armistice Commission had informed it: “One of our soldiers was suddenly taken by madness, seized a Bren gun, and directed it at a group of people in the Ramath Rachel settlement and started firing. He was arrested immediately and taken to a hospital.” The communique also expressed Gen. Burns’ “deepest sympathy” to the relatives of the dead Israelis and to the men and women wounded in this “tragic event.”
In her talk with Gen. Burns this morning, Mrs. Meir emphasized that Israel placed full responsibility on the Jordan Government and army command which is responsible for both the discipline and mental state of its soldiers. She declared that confidential statements to Israeli representatives that the Jordan Government and army commanders were doing everything possible to ensure quiet along the borders were incompatible with overt incitement by Jordan authorities of enmity and war against Israel.
ISRAELI WOMAN KILLED IN NEW ATTACK; U.N. BODY CONDEMNS JORDAN
In a new attack on Israelis in the Jerusalem area, Jordanians killed one of two Israeli women at work in a field close to the armistice lines. In another attack in the Beisan area one settler was wounded and one is missing.
The MAC today condemned Jordan for an attack on an Israeli oil camp in the Negev near the Dead Sea Sept. 12. Three Druze guards were murdered and their weapons stolen by infiltrators, the MAC said.
Meanwhile, a third Israeli died of wounds received in yesterday’s attack at Ramath Rachel. He was Dr. Rudolf Rudberg, 46, president of the Israeli Dental Association. Of the 15 other persons wounded, eight are reported to have received serious wounds. J. Pinkerfeld, another victim, was a relative of Mrs. Meir.
A French Catholic monk, one of four in Ramath Rachel when the firing broke out, gave an eye-witness account of the attack over Kol Israel. He said between 600 and 700 people were listening to an explanation of ruins unearthed near the Israeli settlement when the hail of machine gun bullets began.
The monk, Father Jean Roger, reported that the crowd threw itself to the ground and remained there until the firing, which he estimated lasted nearly two minutes, ended. He reported that he and his fellow monks helped give first aid to the wounded. He was extremely laudatory of the archaeological congress.
The congress was resumed on schedule last night, although every delegate felt the pall of the murderous attack. President Ben Zvi made an unscheduled appearance at last night’s session after having visited the wounded in the hospital. Hebrew University president Benjamin Mazar, who opened the session, called for a period of silence in memory of the victims. Then he dedicated the congress to “those dear members whose innocent blood was shed earlier by Arab Legionnaires.” A garden party scheduled to be given for the delegates by the municipality of Jerusalem was cancelled as a sign of mourning.