In Israel, sixteen schoolchildren were killed and seventy were wounded on Wednesday (15 May) when Israeli troops stormed a school where Arab guerrillas were holding ninety children at gunpoint.
In Israel, sixteen schoolchildren were killed and seventy were wounded on Wednesday (15 May) when Israeli troops stormed a school where Arab guerrillas were holding ninety children at gunpoint. The three guerrillas also killed in the raid had demanded the release of twenty prisoners from Israeli jails.
The deaths occurred during twelve minutes of gunfire between the Israeli soldiers and the three Palestinians. Survivors among the children said the guerrillas had fired into them and had thrown hand grenades among them. The Palestinians had occupied the school early on Wednesday morning and had threatened to blow up the building unless the twenty jailed men were released by an early evening deadline. The children were on an excursion and were spending the night at the school.
The Israeli Government said the decision to storm the school was made when the guerrillas did not transmit a codeward to French and Rumanian diplomats who were acting as intermediaries in the negotiating. The Israeli Government said it had earlier decided to agree to the guerrillas demands for the release of the twenty jailed men and their safe conduct out of Israel.
Responsibility for the occupation of the school was claimed by the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PDFLP said Israel had not intended to release the hostages, and it accused the Israeli Government of using the French and Rumanian diplomats to cover up "criminal aims."
After the shootings, Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Dayan was mobbed by townspeople, critical of his handling of the situation. Mr. Dayan had been called in to supervise the operation soon after the seizure. He and other top military officials were negotiating over loud hailers with the guerrillas shortly before the shooting started.
Israeli officials said the guerrillas had been inside Israeli territory for several days before the attack on the school.
The guerrillas have also been blamed for killing a nearby family before the seizure of the school.