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A Nation is in Mourning

March 13, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A five-year-old girl, Naama Hadani, was buried in Haifa today. She was given a military funeral for she was a victim of war as much as any solider fallen in battle–a war by terrorists against Israel’s civilian population that has been going on intermittently almost from the moment the State of Israel was founded 30 years ago.

Six soldiers carried the small coffin to its grave. An army chaplain conducted the services. An army cantor chanted the EI Moleh Rahamim and recited a chapter from the Psalms. The child was one of the 37 Israeli men, women and children who died in yesterday’s terrorist massacre on the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway. Her father, Joseph, was one of the 82 civilians injured. He was released from the hospital to attend the burial services.

There will be more funerals tomorrow. But some of the dead may not be buried immediately because time is needed to establish their identity. Twenty-five of the victims were burned almost beyond recognition when the terrorists turned their bus into an inferno during a climactic shootout at a roadblock near Tel Aviv. The passengers were tied to their seats, preventing their escape.


Today the entire nation was in mourning and in shock. Of the estimated II terrorists who carried out what has been called the worst and bloodiest outrage in Israel’s history, three are believed still at large. Troops, police, aircraft and helicopters were, as of this evening, carrying out a massive search for the killers who may still be armed and dangerous.

As a protective measure, some 300,000 residents of the Tel Aviv area and suburbs to the north were placed under a round-the-clock curfew. It was lifted for three hours this afternoon to enable householders to stock up on bread, milk and groceries. There were large, mostly silent queues outside shops and supermarkets. Schools in the curfew area remained closed today but classes were held as usual in other parts of the country. In some places eighth graders and high school students volunteered to help the civil defense authorities. Special arrangements were made to transport teachers living in the curfew area to their schools outside the area.

No Arab workers arrived for their jobs in Israel today. Roads to the West Bank were closed as were the Jordan River bridges. There were 53 wounded in the hospitals, some in critical or serious condition. Five hospitals were still functioning on an emergency basis.

The search for the terrorists was hampered by a sudden change in the weather. Yesterday it was warm and dusty. Today it rained heavily, the winds reached almost gale force and thunder storms beat down on searchers combing every swamp and thicket, cave or gully where the terrorists might find a hiding place. Tonight, helicopters hovered overhead dropping flares and beaming searchlights through the downpour.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy questions were raised. How did the terrorists manage to elude Israel’s sea patrols and land on a beach along Israel’s crowded, heavily populated coastal plain? Did Israel’s vaunted intelligence services have no inkling of the impending assault? Why were the police unable to halt the hijacked bus in its 50-kilometer race toward death until it reached the suburbs of Tel Aviv? There are already calls for an inquiry and the government has promised one without delay.


Documents found on the terrorists who were killed or captured cast light on their plans which were more ambitious than the wanton killing of civilians. After landing on the beach at Maagan Michael, south of Haifa, from two rubber dhingies launched by a mother ship, they intended to hijack a vehicle, drive to Tel Aviv, invade a major hotel there and capture hostages.

They would then submit their demands to the government: release of imprisoned terrorists, including Kozo Okamoto, sole survivor of the Japanese “Red Army” kamikaze killers who carried out the Lod Airport massacre on May 30, 1972. A list of their demands was found, written in bad Hebrew on a sheet of paper. The terrorists planned to demand that three diplomats–the British and Rumanian ambassadors and the United Nations representative–accompany them to a United Nations plane to fly them to Damascus.

The plan was not executed. But the terrorists carried out their threat that all hostages would be killed if their demands were not met or if they failed to reach Tel Aviv. The victims were not hotel guests but Israeli families–32 adults, 31 children–returning from a bus tour of the north. Most were families of Egged bus cooperative employes.

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