Israel detained about 450 Arabs, including 80 women in a massive weekend swoop throughout the occupied territories.
Israel detained about 450 Arabs, including 80 women in a massive weekend swoop throughout the occupied territories. It is believed the detainees are being held as counter hostages for the hijacked airline passengers still being held in Jordan.
Close relatives of Dr.George Habbash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group responsible for last week's hijacking of four western airliners, are said to be among those being held.
An Army spokesman said that the detained wee suspected of either belonging to or abetting the Popular Front. However, it is expected they will be held until all the hijacked passengers are released.
It was reported that a delegation of Arab notables was sent to Amman to convey warnings from the Israeli authorities to Popular Front leaders that there would be serious consequences if all the passengers were not released.
Israel's attitude over the continued detention of passengers has been hardening, and there have been demands by some newspapers for the introduction of the death penalty for any Arab hijackers caught by the Israelis. No Arab guerrilla has ever been executed in Israel, although there are provisions for capital punishment in emergencies.
350 of those detained came from the occupied west bank of the Jordan and another 100 from the occupied Gaza strip.
Detainees were brought into police stations in the Jerusalem area in police vans with wire-mesh covered windows. Most of those brought in were said to be in their 20's and 30's.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine threatened "unimaginable" reprisals against Israel for the weekend's mass arrests, and called the Israeli action "barbaric". A Popular Front spokesman announced on sunday evening that the organisation would be "compelled to reply in a stronger way than Israel can imagines."