Hayim Nahman Bialik, the outstanding Hebrew poet, wrote a long time ago, “Even the devil has not yet created the revenge for the blood of young children.” But these words lost their meaning Friday morning as thousands of people cried for revenge at the funeral of the 18 men, women and children who were slaughtered last Thursday in Kiryat Shemona by three Arab terrorists who crossed the border from Lebanon into this Upper Galilee town near the Lebanese border. For four hours the killers conducted a carnage with machine guns, bazookas and hand grenades during which time they also wounded 15 persons. The murderers were subsequently killed by Israeli fire.
On Friday morning the town of Kiryat Shemona was empty as all its 15,000 inhabitants, many of Sephardim and Russian immigrants, gathered at the entrance of the town to form the long funeral procession that included delegations from the entire country. The army chaplainship. headed by Chief Army Chaplain Gen, Mordechai Firon, headed the procession reciting part of the Psalms At the entrance of Kiryat Shemona a state ceremony was held. The two chief rabbis were there, tears in their eyes. They could hardly console others. Police Minister Shlomo Hillel was there too. He spoke on behalf of the government.
“We are digging today many graves, for sons and daughters, for brothers and sisters who fell at hands of beastly marauders. They fell on Kiddush Hashem, on safeguarding the name of the Israeli people and the land of Israel, Not far from here are the graves of (Joseph) Trunpeldor and his friends who gave their lives for the defense of the land…” Hillel was not permitted to continue. The crowd started shouting, asking for action, asking for revenge for the blood of the innocents.
Hillel ended his address in a general tumult and it was decided to cut short all ceremonies. The funeral procession continued to the township’s cemetery where 16 graves were ready. Two of the victims, including a soldier from Israel’s small Circassian Moslem community, were buried in their home village. Mingled with the “El Moleh Rahamim.” and the Kaddish came again the cries for revenge, for action. Kiryat Shemona villagers paid last homage to its dead. Many came from near and afar to be with them. But it was difficult to soothe them. The blood was still fresh. Reinforced police patrols prevented Arabs from nearby Golan Heights and the adjacent areas from entering the town lest they be hurt by some of the villagers.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY FOR DEAD
Many of the relatives and townspeople lashed out in anger against government officials who were present at the funeral and accused the government of failing to provide adequate security precautions. As Hillel promised the crowd that the deaths would not go unavenged he was hit by clods of earth and angry relatives began to shout and scream at him.
The 16 residents of Kiryat Shemona who were slaughtered, half between 21/2 and 19, were burled side by side in the local cemetery. The plain box-wood caskets, draped in the Israeli blue and white flag, were borne to the cemetery on army trucks. Women soldiers carried the wreaths and led the procession. As the coffins were lowered into the graves some of the walling mourners tore at their faces with their fingernails until blood ran down their faces.
The last day of Passover yesterday became a day of national mourning. The North African Jewish community, whose members were among the victims, cancelled its traditional Mimuna festivities which were scheduled to begin today in Jerusalem and several other cities, The organizing committee of the festivities called on all those who had intended to participate to observe today as a memorial day.
Meanwhile. Acting Chief of Staff Gen. Yitzhak Hofi said that Israel had no prior Intelligence that the terrorists were planning any incidents against Israeli cities or population. He told military correspondents in Tel Aviv that no unusual terrorist activity had been noticed on the Lebanese side of the border. The terrorist organization responsible for the atrocity in Kiryat Shemona announced this weekend in Beirut that Thursday’s massacre was designed to sabotage the Mideast peace negotiations. A terrorist spokesman warned that “this operation was Just the beginning of a campaign of revolutionary violence within Israel that is aimed at blocking an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.
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.