TEL AVIV (Apr. 18)
Israeli leaders hinted Thursday of possible “joint efforts” with Jordan to curb terrorist incursions into Israel from Jordanian soil.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens spoke to that effect as the Israel Defense Force threw the full weight of its resources into a massive search for terrorists who may be lurking in the Beit She’an area.
A 32-year-old kibbutz farmer, Gideon Ezra, was killed at Kibbutz Neveh Ur on Wednesday morning by an armed intruder from Jordan, who wounded three other kibbutz members before he was cornered and killed by the IDF.
The shooting occurred less than a mile from the Jordanian border, where an Israeli soldier was critically wounded by an infiltrator Monday night.
That marauder was also killed in a brief exchange of fire with the IDF. But security sources fear others may still be at large.
However, initial reports that a second terrorist had been present on Wednesday and was being sought were denied by the IDF.
The sweeping search began Wednesday and continued through the night into Thursday while Israelis celebrated the state’s 43rd anniversary.
Israel television showed lines of soldiers a few yards apart combing literally every inch of the fields, orchards and underbrush in the region, inspecting every tree, rock and tussock of grass.
Settlers in the area have been advised by the IDF to be vigilant at all times and to carry weapons when they work their fields.
Arens told reporters Thursday that the IDF was reconsidering its defense tactics in the Beit She’an area because of the rising incidence of armed infiltration from Jordan. Wednesday’s incursion was the ninth so far this year.
Arens said the Jordanian authorities were well aware that Israel holds them responsible for preventing hostile acts from their territory.
He hinted that “parallel actions” might be taken by the two countries.
Shamir said in an Independence Day television interview that even though King Hussein seems to have lost a measure of control in his own kingdom, “joint efforts” would have to be undertaken by Israel and Jordan to end the hostile activities.