TEL AVIV (Oct. 23)
A military tribunal in Lod today convicted two Palestinian terrorists on 13 charges for their part in the coastal raid March, 1978 in which 34 civilians were murdered and 73 injured. Haled Mouhammed Ibrahim Housein, 22, and Ibrahim Mahmoud Fuad, 19, the only two survivors of the 11-member terrorist group, will be sentenced Thursday.
The two were convicted of 10 charges of firing at people, two of placing and detonating explosives, and one of being members of a hostile organization. The court said Housein and Fuad violated not only the law but morality by firing at unarmed women and children. It said the terrorists did not come to Israel to take hostages but to kill people. They fired at civilians, not soldiers.
The court rejected the claims of the defense counsel that the Israelis aboard a bus seized by the terrorists were killed by Israeli soldiers firing at the terrorists, not by the two defendants. The court also rejected the claim that Housein and Fuad did not themselves kill anyone. The court said there was ample evidence that they killed at least one person as well as being part of the group that killed the other Israelis.
Housein and Fuad were members of a gang that landed on a beach near Kibbutz Moagen Michael and killed, on its way to the highway, American nature photographer Gail Rubin of New York. The gang then hijacked a bus full of passengers and in the shootout with police north of Tel Aviv, set the bus ablaze and fired at and threw hand grenades at the passengers.
The trial itself was an emotional event with frequent shouts from the relatives of victims and surviving victims at the two defendants who spat at the crowd and smiled when the brutality of the terrorists was described. However, the anger of the crowd was especially aimed at their Israeli lawyer, Lea Zemel, especially when she cross-examined survivors of the attack. (By Yitzhak Shargil)