On Sunday (12 March), Israeli Prime Minister Menachem begin announced he was postponing his planned Washington trip for at least a week following Saturday's Palestinian bus attack in which 37 Israelis were killed.
On Sunday (12 March), Israeli Prime Minister Menachem begin announced he was postponing his planned Washington trip for at least a week following Saturday's Palestinian bus attack in which 37 Israelis were killed. Israel's Defence Minister Ezer Weizman was recalled from Washington for emergency talks after the guerrilla raid, and security forces were sent out to scour the surrounding areas in search of any elusive members of the Palestinian attack group. At a special news conference, the Israeli Prime Minister described the commando raid as a Nazi atrocity, and warned that Israel would not forget.
SYNOPSIS: Late into Saturday night, police, security troops and medical personnel were busy searching through the wreckage of the burnt-out bus, and carrying away bodies of the victims. At the same time, a blanket curfew was put into force, and roadblocks were set up on all roads leading to and from the area of the commando raid. All civilian drivers had their papers checked as part of the follow-up search for any of the guerrillas who might have escaped after the attack. More than 300,000 Israelis came under the curfew restrictions.
At first light on Sunday, armed troops were out in strength combing the coastal areas near the spot where the hijacked bus had overturned and been reduced to a charred skeleton. The roadblocks were kept in position, and civilians were warned to stay home. Helicopters were also used in co-ordinating the massive manhunt.
Nearby, hurried funeral arrangements were being made for some of the victims. Throughout Sunday, messages of condolence poured into Israel from western countries. British Prime Minister James Callaghan said he was deeply shocked by the attack, which he saw as a calculated act to set back or destroy the current Middle East peace initiative The United States Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Samuel Lewis, followed President Carter's condemnation of the raid with his own condolences by phone form Washington, where he had been preparing for Mr. Begin's visit. Meanwhile, in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Commandos manned anti-aircraft guns against expected Israeli attack.