Daily Israel Report

Search Continues For Feared Terror Victim

Security forces are not talking - the police have clamped a gag order on the investigation - but it is feared that taxi-driver Eliyahu Gur-El has fallen victim to a terrorist attack.
First Publish: 7/13/2003, 11:34 AM


Security forces are not talking - the police have clamped a gag order on the investigation - but it is feared that taxi-driver Eliyahu Gur-El has fallen victim to a terrorist attack. His abandoned taxi was found on Friday in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem, and police have been searching for him ever since. He was heard from only briefly yesterday when he called and said, "I'm fine," before the telephone went dead. Police are looking into reports that an Arabic-accented voice said on the phone, "We won't hurt him."

On Friday afternoon, Gur-El, who lives in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, dropped off an Israeli couple in western Jerusalem, and then phoned his family. He told his daughter that he had completed his shift, but that he planned to make one more trip and then to come home. He was not heard from again that day, and his wife Chana filed a "missing person" report with the police at 8 PM. At around the same time, Beit Hanina residents reported the finding of an abandoned Jewish-owned taxi cab. The police arrived on the scene, ascertained that it belonged to Gur-El, and found no signs of violence in or around it. Using trackers, dogs, and helicopters, large security forces began a large-scale pursuit, which continued today.

The Israelis have asked the Palestinian Authority for help in finding the missing taxi-driver; Muhammad Dahlan said that the PA was "looking into the matter."

Defense Minister Mofaz announced today that the act was of a terrorist nature. He repeated that which was widely said last week, that the Palestinian terrorists are using the hudna - the temporary terrorism halt called by Hamas and Islamic Jihad - to regroup and rebuild the terrorist infrastructures. The Defense Minister said, however, that the number of terrorist warning and incidents of incitement has gone down significantly. He added that the PA arrested over the weekend 20 Arabs carrying illegal weapons - though they were reportedly common criminals and not terrorists.