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March 11, 1994 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-03-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Men examine the bodies of two Palestinians killed at the mosque in Hebron.

Israeli Guards
Were Not At Posts

Jerusalem (JTA) — The ter-
rorist attack at the Cave of
the Patriarchs in Hebron
might have been prevented
had Israeli security guards
been at their posts, the
Israel Defense Force ad-
mitted in testimony before
the state commission of in-
quiry investigating the inci-
dent.
But Maj. Gen. Danny
Yatom, commander for the
West Bank, said that while
lax security made the kill-
ings at the shrine possible, a
similar attack elsewhere
could not have been averted.
"A crazy murderer acting
alone who decides and is de-
termined to carry out an at-
tack" cannot be stopped,
Maj. Gen. Yatom said.
"There are many oppor-
tunities every day to kill
Arabs," said Maj. Gen.
Yatom.
Maj. Gen. Yatom was testi-
fying at the opening of the
hearings conducted at the
Supreme Court by the five-
member commission.
He said that two IDF
soldiers and three border
policemen were not at their
posts when Baruch Golds-
tein, a Brooklyn-born settler
from neighboring Kiryat
Arba, opened fire and killed
Palestinians at prayer.
IDF investigators now put
the number of fatalities at
29. An additional three Pa-
lestinians may have been
trampled by worshippers
fleeing the attack.
Supreme Court Chief
Justice Meir Shamgar, who
heads the panel, asked Maj.
gen. Yatom if the massacre
could have been prevented
had the posts been properly
manned.
The head of the central

command replied, "To the
best of my knowledge, yes."
In response to questions,
Maj. Gen. Yatom also made
it clear the military had no
intelligence that warned of
such a violent attack by a
Jewish settler. He said the
military had been alert to
disturbances from the set-
tlers, but not to terrorism.
IDF preparedness overall
focused on Arab terrorism
against Jews and not the re-
verse, he said.
The commission has far-
reaching legal powers to in-
vestigate what happened, to
draw conclusions and make
recommendations.
It can subpoena witnesses
and documents, call on the
police to detain people to get
them to testify and levy
punishment for perjury.
Its power to compel
witnesses to testify is espe-
cially important against the
background of threats by
Hamas against Palestinian
witnesses not to testify.
Analysts assessing the
possible impact of such an
inquiry point to two
precedents.
In 1973 a state commission
investigating the Yom
Kippur War found the
military at fault for being
taken by surprise by Syrian
and Egyptian attacks, while
absolving the political estab-
lishment.

But a 1982 state commis-
sion investigating the kill-
ing by ristian militiamen of
hundreds of Palestinians at
the Sabra and Shatila refu-
gee camps in southern Leb-
anon implicated politicians
and forced the resignation of
then-Defense Minister Ariel
Sharon.



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