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Israel Mood Grim As Algeria Says Will Retain Hijacked Plane and Israelis

August 5, 1968
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The issue of the hijacked El Al airliner which has been held by Algeria with 12 of its Israeli passengers and crew members since July 23. will be the first item on the agenda of the Cabinet when it meets tomorrow. The Government was known to have taken a most serious view of the delaying tactics of the Algerian Government which decided Thursday not to release the plane and Israelis pending a further “investigation”of the hijacking.

The Cabinet meeting, usually held on Sunday, was postponed until tomorrow because of the Tisha B’av holiday but political sources here warned that Algerian inaction made Algeria “a partner to the act of piracy,” imposing on it “a great and grave responsibility.” The Boeing 707. was hijacked by Arab terrorists during a Rome-Lydda flight and forced to land at Algiers. Non-Israelis and Israeli women and children were released. The Algerian Government’s statement was described here today as “blackmail tied with red tape.” Government sources said that Israel had acted with utmost restraint. despite the anger engendered here and abroad by the plane seizure, but. they said, talk of more investigation was “a transparent ruse” that made the matter one with political elements.

Israeli newspapers warned Algeria today that it would get no ransom from Israel for the plane, its passengers and crew. The postponement tactics and the “war of nerves” conducted by Algeria will only further deteriorate a situation already saturated with tension, the papers said. The evening newspaper Maariv declared that Algeria might be waiting for a “gesture” on the part of Israel and added that “it must be made clear that such a wait is in vain. The only gesture possible is the immediate release of the plane and its passengers. Israel is not ready to pay or grant prizes for acts of piracy.” A decision to release the plane had been expected from the Algerian Cabinet meeting. Diplomatic sources in Paris meanwhile said that Morocco and Tunisia had advised Algerian President Boumedienne to release the plane and the Israelis.

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