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Boy Finds Explosive at Circus, Search Turns Up More, Averting Major Catastrophe

July 28, 1969
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A 14-year-old Israeli boy’s curiosity was credited by police today with frustrating saboteurs’ plans for a major blast in a circus here which was timed to maim and kill hundreds of the circus-goers.

Benjamin Peretz and a youthful friend had been looking at the Tokyo Fair from the street but apparently did not intend to watch the performance. They wandered over to one of the numerous watermelon stands looking for “spare” melons. Benjamin opened a melon and observed a pencil-like object embedded in the opening. He removed it and playfully threw it at his friend. It exploded, injuring the boy slightly.

Police were called to the melon stand and began a search. They found the suspected melon and inside of it a kilogram of explosives. A second melon was found with three times that much explosive. An old coat, to which no one had paid any attention, was found to have 20 sticks of gelignite sewn into its lining. The circus performance was halted immediately and the audience followed instructions to leave by the tent through its back entrance while the search for more explosives continued. No more were found.

The police said that the pencil-like object was a timing device which had been set to detonate the explosives as the circus audience was leaving the performance. They said a major catastrophe in damages, injuries and death could have occurred.

Police immediately rounded up some 300 local Arabs, with 28 kept in custody for more questioning. Some hot-headed Jewish youths tried to attack Arabs in the vicinity but police moved quickly and stopped the threat. The injured boy was released from the hospital. The suspects were brought before a magistrate and remanded for further investigation.

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