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Special Panel Report Says Two Terrorists Nabbed in Bus Hijacking Were Beaten to Death by Security Pe

May 29, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two terrorists captured in the April 12 bus hijacking were beaten to death by security personnel while undergoing interrogation, according to the report of a special investigation committee set up by the Defense Ministry which was released in part today. (See separate story for reaction by Knesset members.)

The report found that the two men died of fractured skulls as a result of blows to the backs of their heads with a blunt instrument during the early hours of Friday, April 13.

It completely contradicts the official Israel Defense Force version of events which maintained that two of four terrorists who hijacked a Tel Aviv-to-Ashkelon bus on the evening of April 12 were killed instantly when troops stormed the stalled vehicle in the Gaza Strip and that the two others died shortly afterwards of their wounds.

The report published today, with many deletions, was submitted to Defense Minister Moshe Arens. It was Arens who established the investigating panel under heavy public pressure after the Israeli media carried reports that at least one of the terrorists was seen by reporters being led away from the bus in handcuffs, apparently unharmed. All four terrorists, residents of the Gaza Strip, were buried on April 15 under military supervision.


The investigation was headed by Gen. (Res.) Meir Zorea who was selected by Arens for the task. He was assisted by an aide who has not been identified. The portion of their report disclosed by a Defense Ministry spokesman refers to “security personnel” being involved but does not place responsibility on any individual for administering the fatal blows. It was understood, however, that disciplinary action will be taken against unidentified personnel for allowing such behavior or failing to prevent it.

The Zorea report was based on evidence by scores of witnesses and post mortem examinations of the exhumed bodies. The report found that it had been necessary to administer blows to the terrorists in the process of retaking the hijacked bus in order to prevent them from detonating bombs in the vehicle.

But the fatal injuries were inflicted between the time they were taken from the bus and their interrogation in a nearby field. Arens has reportedly accepted most of the findings. He denounced the actions of the security personnel which a Defense Ministry spokesman stressed were illegal and unauthorized by any regulations or orders.

Further investigations will be carried out by the military police, the regular police force and the Attorney General’s Office which will decide if any additional action is called for. The Defense Ministry pointed out that there were no special circumstances surrounding the seizure of the hijacked bus and the freeing of its passengers by IDF personnel that could have justified the action taken against the two surviving terrorists by security personnel.

One bus passenger, a 19-year-old woman soldier, was killed in the shoot-out that accompanied the storming of the bus. No other passengers were hurt. The four terrorists were youths in their late teens and early twenties.

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