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Hadashot steals our thunder


Hijacking of the Ashkelon-Tel Aviv bus
Uri Avnery Social activist
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There was the time four young Arabs took control of the bus on route 300 from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon, and the army managed to halt the bus. According to standard procedure, the army began to negotiate with the hijackers to wear them down and to gather forces for the assault. The IDF had done this several times, almost always with disastrous results. I say 'disastrous' because you endanger − on airplanes and on buses, too − you endanger the lives of passengers for reasons of honour. Would it be such a disaster if you did exchange prisoners? So what? No one has ever died from it. But Israel can never, almost never – and here the justified 'almost' – never agrees because to do so would be a national insult. And so the bus was stopped and negotiations started, long and tedious negotiations. By then, reporters and journalists had arrived. Anat Saragusti was there on behalf of HaOlam HaZeh – at that time she worked as the lead photographer at the newspaper. The soldiers stormed the bus and during the assault two of the hijackers were killed. The army claimed that all four were killed. It was the Sabbath. I was at home, but I live very close to the editorial office where we had a photographic laboratory. Suddenly, I got a phone call from Anat Saragusti asking me to come immediately to the newspaper and in the lab, in the darkroom, she showed me a picture and said she thought it was one of the hijackers and he was alive. He was surrounded by soldiers , along with the Head of Central Command, and they were taking him away alive, while the army claimed he was killed next to the bus or on the bus immediately at the time of the release − that is, he was a casualty of the assault. We developed the picture, looked carefully and sure enough, even though the picture is not very sharp or clear, it is clear enough to see that the Head of the Central Command is there with several security personnel standing around and in the middle, there's one of the hijackers. HaOlam HaZeh − with the usual eagerness to uncover the truth and refute lies − wanted to publish. But there is censorship, military censorship.

ארבעה צעירים ערביים השתלטו על אוטובוס בקו 300 תל אביב-אשקלון והצבא הצליח לעצור אותו. ולפי הנוהל המקובל הצבא התחיל כאילו לנהל מו"מ כדי לעייף את החוטפים וכדי לאסוף כוחות בשביל להסתער. זה צה"ל עשה פעמים אחדות וכמעט תמיד בתוצאות הרות אסון. ואני אומר "הרות אסון" מפני שאתה מסכן, גם במטוסים וגם באוטובוסים אתה מסכן את חיי הנוסעים מטעמי כבוד. איזה אסון קורה אם אתה באמת מגיע ואתה כאילו מחליף אסירים, אז מה? אף אחד לא מת מזה. אבל ישראל אף פעם לא יכולה, כמעט אף פעם, ופה ה"כמעט" מוצדק, אף פעם לא הסכימה מפני שזה היה עלבון לאומי. וככה האוטובוס נעצר והתחיל מו"מ ארוך, מייגע. בינתיים הספיקו עיתונאים ועיתונאיות להגיע למקום. ומטעם "העולם הזה" הייתה שם ענת סרגוסטי, שאז עבדה כצלמת ראשית בעיתון. והצבא הסתער על האוטובוס. בזמן ההסתערות נהרגו שניים מהחוטפים. והצבא טען שכל הארבעה נהרגו. זה היה שבת, אני זוכר הייתי בבית ואני גר מאוד קרוב למערכת. במערכת הייתה מעבדת צילום ופתאום אני מקבל טלפון מענת סרגוסטי והיא ביקשה שאני אבוא מיד למערכת ובמעבדה, בחדר החושך היא מראה לי תמונה ואמרה שהיא חושבת שזה אחד החוטפים והוא חי. ומסביבו חיילים, גם אלוף הפיקוד, ומובילים אותו חי, בעוד שהצבא טען שהוא נהרג ליד האוטובוס או בתוך האוטובוס מיד בזמן השחרור, כלומר שהיה קורבן ההסתערות. פיתחנו את התמונה, הסתכלנו ואכן, אמנם תמונה לא לגמרי בהירה וברורה, אבל מספיק ברורה בשביל לראות שיש שם אלוף הפיקוד, יש כמה אנשי בטחון מסביב ובאמצע אחד החוטפים. "העולם הזה" עם הלהיטות הרגילה שלו לחשוף את האמת ולהפריך שקרים, רוצה לפרסם. אבל יש צנזורה, צנזורה צבאית.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: HaOlam HaZeh, Anat Saragusti

Duration: 4 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017