JERUSALEM — An anonymous caller claiming to represent the PLO's Force 17 unit said Friday its guerrillas killed a missing Israeli couple who disappeared while hiking in the Jerusalem hills.
Edna Harari, 22, and Motti Swissa, 28, failed to return home Wednesday from their daylong hike southeast of Jerusalem, setting off a massive police search.
The caller's claim that he represented Force 17, the elite bodyguard unit of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat that has reportedly been responsible for recent terrorist actions, could not immediately be confirmed. He told a reporter at Agence France-Presse that the two Israelis were killed near the settlement of Mevo Beitar southeast of Jerusalem.
Police found the couple's abandoned car containing all of their hiking equipment in the Mevo Beitar area and said they "could not rule out" the possibility the two were killed in a terrorist attack.
The caller gave no motive for the alleged killing, but the claim came three days after Israel bombed PLO headquarters in Tunis in retaliation for the Yom Kippur killings of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Cyprus Killings Claimed
A caller claiming to represent PLO Force 17 claimed responsibility for the killing of the three Israelis in Cyprus, but other PLO representatives denied that it had anything to do with the slayings.
Meanwhile, the Arab newspaper Al Fajr printed an obituary here indicating that Lt. Col. Mohammed Al Ghoul, a commander in Arafat's bodyguard and the man responsible for security at the Tunis headquarters was killed in the Israeli raid.
Obituaries were placed by the families of Al Ghoul and another PLO officer, Lt. Col. Fuad Mustafa. The families live in Palestinian refugee camps in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip.
If the missing Israeli couple was slain, it would bring to 17 the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks since August, 1984.