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Jordanian Link to Terrorists Confirmed by Surviving Attacker

June 2, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jordan’s link to a terrorist gang that planned to wreak havoc on tourist-packed Eilat beaches was confirmed by its only surviving member, Israeli authorities said Monday.

The account given by Mutazam Bin Mohamed al-Nabeh, under interrogation at Josephthal Hospital in Eilat, contradicted Amman’s claim that the terrorist mission was not launched from Aqaba, the Jordanian town neighboring Eilat.

Top Israeli officials held Jordan responsible from the outset.

They were proved correct by Nabeh, a 26-year-old Palestinian who said he was trained and equipped for the mission in Jordan and that he and three other terrorists had departed from Aqaba last Friday night on behalf of a Moslem extremist group.

Nabeh was severely wounded in a gunbattle with Israeli soldiers and police early Saturday morning, in which his companions was killed. The terrorists had just murdered an Israeli night watchman, Yosef Shirazi, who encountered them on his rounds.

The two other terrorists who set out on the mission drowned during a grueling swim from Aqaba, according to the survivor’s account.


Nabeh said he was born in the West Bank city of Hebron and became a “born-again Moslem believer.” He said he went to Amman 18 months ago to study at a mosque, where he received daily religious instruction, including the doctrine that war on Israel is a holy duty.

He said he received 150 dinars (about $1,500) a month and joined the extremist Moujadin movement after volunteering for action against Israel.

About a month ago, he and three others were sent to Aqaba for intensive instruction in swimming and use of weapons. They were preparing to attack a crowded beach near Eilat, one of Israel’s main seaside resorts and tourist hot spots.

Nabeh said one other member of the mission was a Palestinian and another belonged to Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist group in the Gaza Strip that has been active in the intifada. He said he did not know the fourth member’s background.

According to his account, the four set out at dusk Friday with plastic waterproof containers of weapons, food and dry clothing fastened to their legs. They were supposed to drag them as they swam and also use them as life rafts.

But during the swim, a strong northerly wind began to blow and the current swept them south of their intended landing point, which was a beach north of Eilat.

The swim turned into a harrowing ordeal, according to Nabeh’s account. One of the four swimmers discovered his container was leaking, making it difficult for him to swim. He begged for permission to jettison it but the unit commander refused and the man was soon pulled under by its weight and drowned.

Some time later, the commander’s container began to leak. According to Nabeh’s account, he immediately cut it loose and demanded that one of the other swimmers hand over his container to use as a life raft.

Both refused and the commander supported himself on their shoulders. But a quarrel broke out. Nabeh and his companion pushed their leader away and he soon disappeared.

The two survivors landed at about 5:30 Saturday morning and rested on the beach, where they made a meal of pita bread and condensed milk and changed to dry clothes.

When Shirazi, the night watchman at the Hebrew University’s Marine Biology Research Institute, discovered the terrorists, they shot him and moved inland.

But the sound of the gunshot attracted attention and the pair were soon confronted by Israel Defense Force soldiers and local police.

Nabeh was formally remanded in custody for 15 days by an Eilat magistrates court Monday. He will be transferred to a hospital in central Israel and subsequently sent to prison.

Israeli officials said the weapons the two terrorists carried could have inflicted major casualties on the Eilat beaches. They included two automatic assault rifles, 40 hand grenades and a LAW shoulder-mounted missile launcher.

Jordan claimed initially that it had no knowledge of the terrorist mission and that the infiltrators could have come from Egypt or Saudi Arabia, which both abut the Gulf of Aqaba.

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