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Shamir: the Attack on the Vienna Synagogue Was Like an Attack on the State of Israel’

September 1, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said last night that the terrorist bombing of a synagogue in Vienna Saturday in which two people were killed and 18 were wounded was “like an attack on the State of Israel.”

In a television interview he said that the Palestine Liberation Organization was responsible for the tragedy. Reiterating other official statements made yesterday which held the PLO responsible, Shamir said Israel “does not distinguish between the various groupings …. they all seek to murder Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) and Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) by killing Jews.”

He was apparently referring to reports from Vienna which said that the two terrorists said they had acted on behalf of the PLO and one of them said he was a member of Al Asifa, an extremist splinter terrorist group led by Abu Nidal which claimed last May to have killed Vienna city councillor Heinz Nittel, president of the Austrian-Israeli Friendship Society, and which later threatened the life of Chancellor Bruno Kreisky.


Shamir said Israel had repeatedly warned Austria “of the likely disastrous results of its easygoing attitude” toward PLO activities. He said that the “supportive attitude” which the PLO received from Austrian officialdom “doubtlessly encouraged them to conduct terrorist attacks on Austrian soil.”

Kreisky was the first Western leader to have officially received PLO chief Yasir Arafat. The Chancellor said yesterday in a radio broadcast that the attack on the synagogue Saturday was the work of unidentified forces seeking to sabotage Palestinian interests. “I am firmly convinced that the attackers had nothing to do with the PLO,” he said.

The attack Saturday was the latest in a series of terrorist actions against Jews in Austria. The same synagogue was attacked in April, 1979 when 80 persons escaped a time bomb which destroyed the building. In 1973, terrorists seized Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union who were waiting in Vienna for transfer to Israel and elsewhere. Earlier this month two bombs exploded in a garden adjacent to the Israel Embassy, slightly injuring a woman. In 1975 terrorists also attacked the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries headquarters in Vienna.

According to a report from Vienna, Austrian Interior Minister Erwin Lanc said after the Saturday terrorist attack that there are indications there might be more such attacks. He did not elaborate. (See separate story from Vienna.)

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