Israeli army and police units threw a massive dragnet around the Jerusalem area this week following the terrorist killing of a border policeman.
Staff Sgt. Avinoam Peretz, 23, of Migdal Haemek, was shot in the stomach Tuesday morning in East Jerusalem by a young Palestinian in military-style clothes whose identity card he was checking.
The killer himself was quickly caught. But one or possibly two accomplices escaped by car, eyewitnesses said. Police said they knew the identities of the man or men they were pursuing.
The incident was one of the most serious in the capital for a long time, Jerusalem police chief Haim Albaldes said. It occurred in broad daylight on the main road leading into the city’s northern suburbs of Shuafat and French Hill, a major thoroughfare used by both Jews and Arabs.
The assailant, moreover, wore a quasi-military uniform and apparently carried his weapon, a snub-barrelled M-16 issued by the Israel Defense Force, quite openly.
The victim, an instructor at the border police academy in the capital, spotted the man and tapped him from behind to ask for his identification.
Instead, the man whirled around and fired a round of bullets.
He then fled and attempted to commandeer a passing taxi, taking its occupants hostage. But a border police unit, quickly on the scene, was able to overpower him without further shots being fired.
It was reported that the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hamas had taken credit for the killing.
Albaldes said Peretz’s alertness had undoubtedly saved the capital from murder on a large scale.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin condemned the “bestial act” and vowed tough and vigorous efforts to fight terror, “while at the same time seriously examining the prospects of advancing toward peace with the Palestinians.”
Israeli Police Chief Ya’acov Terner said Monday night that the murderer and his accomplice planned an attack on a nearby road-shelter where soldiers wait for lifts. He indicated there were two men involved in the plot, both of them long sought by the police and the General Security Service, or Shin Bet.
The murderer himself is from the West Bank town of Jenin.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.