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Three Israelis Killed in Negev During Terrorist Hijack and Rampage

March 8, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Three Israeli civilians were killed and 10 wounded Monday morning in a three-and-a-half-hour terrorist bus hijack and shooting rampage in the Negev.

Two women and a man, all passengers in the bus, were fatally shot. The man was killed by the terrorists while senior Israel Defense Force officers were bargaining with them to gain time. The women were killed by bullets later, as border police stormed the bus. According to the IDF, they were fired upon by the terrorists, all three of whom were killed by border police.

The dead Israelis were identified as Victor Ramm, 39, an engineer and father of three children whose mother died six months ago; Miriam Ben-Meir, 46, a mother of four children; and Rina Shiratzky, 31, mother of two. All were from Beersheba and worked at the Dimona nuclear plant.

Nine of the wounded were bus passengers; the tenth was a man traveling on the road at the time of the hijacking. The bus was carrying employees of the nuclear facility in Dimona, mostly women, to their jobs from Beersheba.

The bus was packed, but most of the 50 passengers managed to escape unhurt. The terrorists apparently infiltrated the Negev from Egypt. According to an Arabic speaking woman in the bus who conversed with them, they said they were members of Al Fatah, the terrorist arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Yasir Arafat.

But Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who reported on the incident to the Knesset later in the day, identified the hijackers as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jabril, who is reportedly headquartered in Syria. His terrorist group, though considered part of the PLO, is at odds with Arafat.

The only demand the hijackers made to the passengers, and later to the IDF officers, was to speak to representatives of the International Red Cross. The terrorists might have decided by that stage that they wanted to give up.


They started their shooting spree, at about 7 a.m. local time, by seizing a military car at gunpoint from three IDF officers who managed to escape and alert security forces. The terrorists drove the car along the Beersheba-Dimona road, shooting at passing vehicles.

They were stopped by a slow-moving tractor-trailer truck. The Dimona-bound bus was just ahead of the truck. The terrorists abandoned the car and took over the bus. All but about a dozen passengers fled for cover.

The terrorists continued to fire on passing vehicles from the bus. By that time, the entire area was sealed off by troops and border police.

Police in a pursuing car halted the bus by shooting out its tires.

Senior IDF officers approached the disabled vehicle to negotiate with the hijackers, while border police, trained in anti-terrorist tactics, deployed for an assault on the bus. This was carried out at 10:25 a.m. local time and lasted less than a minute.

The operation was under the overall command of the general in command of the southern region. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and IDf Chief of Staff Dan Shomron rushed to the scene while the operation was still under way.

Rumors of a terrorist attack in the Negev circulated throughout the country, but the public was not aware of what happened until 1:30 p.m., when the news was broadcast during the midday Israel radio newscast. Premier Yitzhak Shamir was kept informed of developments throughout the morning.


In Washington, the State Department deplored the hijacking. Department spokesman Charles Redman said simply, “We condemn this act.”

Redman also said he did not know the cause of the undetonated bomb discovered in Jerusalem last Friday during Secretary of State George Shultz’s visit to Israel.

“Peace has its enemies,” Redman said. “Whether or not these kind of incidents are the works of those kinds of people, I really can’t say at this point.”

In New York, Theodore Mann, national president of the American Jewish Congress, issued a statement saying his organization was “horified and outraged by the indiscriminate terrorist attack on innocent Israeli bus passengers.”

Mann noted that the PLO “has again exposed its true nature as a fundamentally terrorist organization committed to ‘armed struggle’ against Israel.”

Monday’s incident kindled memories of the coastal road hijack in 1978, when a gang of seaborne terrorists landed on a beach in Israel, seized an Egged bus on the Haifa-Tel Aviv highway, which parallels the coast, and began firing on passing cars, causing fatalities and injuries. That bus was stormed by IDF troops in the northern outskirts of Tel Aviv, who killed the terrorists, but not before they inflicted heavy casualties among the passengers.

Because of the heavy volume of news from the Middle East, today’s Daily News Bulletin has been expanded to six pages. (Washington correspondent Howard Rosenberg contributed to this story.)

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