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Armed Police Patrol Jerusalem to Prevent Recurrence of Explosions, Anti-arab Rioting

August 20, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Steel helmeted police, aided by border patrolmen, restored calm to Jerusalem today following an evening of terrorist grenade explosions Sunday which injured 10 persons and were followed by rioting. The city was under heavy guard today to prevent another outbreak of terror tactics and retaliation by angry Jews. But another bomb went off Monday near the Knesset (Parliament) building, although nobody was injured and no property damaged.

Following the outbreak of explosions Sunday, incensed Jewish mobs severely beat up Arabs in the East and West sectors of the city and even assaulted one of the injured in the belief that he was an Arab saboteur.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan toured East Jerusalem today and condemned the riots and beatings of Arab residents. Gen. Dayan declared that the acts of a few terrorists did not reflect the attitude of the general population. He said the residents of East Jerusalem were opposed to terrorism and proved by their daily behavior that they can live peacefully under Israeli rule.

All of the injured were hospitalized and were reported out of danger except a beaten Arab who was listed as critical. They included an American student, Suzanne Greenstein, 20, of New York, whose injuries were described as slight. Two Jews were seriously wounded. Police rounded up several dozen suspects in connection with the sabotage and 16 of them were held for questioning. Six Jewish rioters were also in jail and charges may be brought against them. Minister of Police Eliahu Sassoon ordered police to take strict measures to suppress any attempt to disturb law and order no matter from which side. Jews and Arabs were reported to be mingling normally in Jerusalem this morning.

Sunday night’s grenade explosions were described by observers as the most serious terrorist acts on Israeli soil since the June, 1967 Six-Day War and were obviously the work of organized professionals. The grenades, each with a Chinese-made chemical timing device, were planted in central parts of West Jerusalem, concealed in trash bins and in wastepaper cans attached to lamp posts. Five of them exploded between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. local time but nine of the 10 injured persons were struck by fragments from a single grenade that detonated in a trash bin on Strauss Street, near the Bikur Holim Hospital, about 100 yards from the city’s main business crossroads. The 10th victim was an attendant at a filling station near which another grenade went off.

The blasts temporarily disrupted activities in downtown Jerusalem. Several streets were sealed off and two movie theaters near the scene of the explosions shut down. Police began a foot-by-foot search in public gardens, empty lots and trash cans in the downtown district. Civil defense wardens found several grenades which were taken to open lots where they were exploded harmlessly.

The blasts which were an obvious terrorist attempt to cause indiscriminate injuries or death among civilians, infuriated many Jerusalemites. Hundreds of Israeli youths poured into East Jerusalem, severely beating up any Arabs they encountered, smashing shop windows, hurling rocks into Arab houses and through the windows of Arab taxis and overturning cars. Arabs found in the Western sector were also beaten. Riot police armed with batons pushed the mobs out of East Jerusalem and sealed off the area. One Israeli who was wounded in the lower part of his body by grenade fragments near the Bikur Holim Hospital was mistaken for an Arab saboteur and severely beaten by crowds even as he was being lifted into an ambulance, despite his protestations that he was a Jew.

The grenade attacks are believed here to have been the work of a small local terrorist group although the Chinese timing devices indicated a connection with El Fatah, the principal Arab guerrilla organization operating from Jordanian territory. El Fatah leaders had threatened to strike against Israel’s civilian population in retaliation for the Aug. 4 Israeli air attack on the El Fatah bases near the Jordanian town of Salt.

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