Defense Minister Moshe Arens has appointed a commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four terrorists when Israeli troops stormed a hijacked inter-city bus early Friday, April 13, to rescue its passengers being held hostage.
At the same time, the authorities ordered the newspaper Hadoshot suspended for four days for breach of censorship. The tabloid reported the establishment of the inquiry commission before it was officially announced. The Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by the paper against the suspension.
Arens announced that the commission would be headed by Maj. Gen. (Res) Meir Zorea, a former Defense Ministry Comptroller, and that its report would be published. According to the Defense Ministry, Arens instructed Morea to complete his investigation as quickly as possible.
The investigation was prompted by widespread media reports at home and abroad that at least one of the terrorists was taken into custody unharmed, implying that he was subsequently murdered. All four, residents of the Gaza Strip, were buried on April 15 under army suspervision.
David Shipler, The New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem, was summoned to the government press office last week and was reprimanded by its head, Morton Dolinsky, for dispatching his report of the incident to New York without submitting it to the censor. He was taken to task for a “serious breach” of censorship regulations.
CONTENTIONS AND COUNTER-CONTENTIONS
Reporters present when troops surrounded and then assaulted the Tel Aviv-to-Ashkelon Egged bus were quoted by Israel Radio as saying that two of the terrorists were killed on the spot. Arens was later quoted as saying that he had no reason to disbelieve the army account that the other two died of their wounds shortly afterwards, one of them on the way to a hospital.
But a photograph, taken by a Hadoshot reporter, showed one man, apparently unharmed, being led away from the scene handcuffed by two plainclothes Israeli security men. Friends and relatives later identified the man as 18 year-old Majdi Abu Jama, of Beni Shuheila village in the Gaza Strip, one of the bus hijackers.
Arens originally said the incident was being “routinely” investigated by the army. He announced the special inquiry after demands by opposition politicians and local editors for a thorough investigation of what happened after the hijacked bus was freed.
The authorities cracked down on Hadoshot, a new tabloid owned by the Schoken family, publishers of the independent daily Haaretz. While the Supreme Court upheld the four-day suspension order, Hadoshot won a 30-day injunction against an order by the Defense Minister barring sale of the newspaper in army camps.
The Press Council and the Editors Committee have refused to back up Hadoshot because it “broke the censorship law.” But observers suggested that the Council and the Committee decided the issue was not a matter of “freedom of the press” because of their ongoing dispute with the publishers of Hadoshot. They do not belong to either group, do not employ members of the Journalists Association and do not pay their reporters union wages.
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.