British Tourist Killed in Apparent Terror Attack
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A 28-year-old British tourist was shot to death Sunday outside a Christian holy site and an Israeli leader denounced the murder as an attempt by terrorists to scare away vistors.
It was the third shooting of a tourist in six weeks in predominantly Arab east Jerusalem. The two other victims survived.
Jerusalem police spokesman Rafi Levy said Paul Appleby of Bristol was shot once in the back of the head with a small caliber pistol near the Garden Tomb shrine, revered by some Protestants as the hilltop where Jesus was crucified and buried.
Levy said Appleby came to Israel a month ago and was living in a rented apartment in Jerusalem with friends.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir called the shooting the work of terrorists and pledged Israel will fight terrorism until ″we put an end to it.″
He said the attack was meant to frighten visitors and undermine tourism, an important source of income to Israel.
Police sources said investigators were trying to determine if the attack was intended as retaliation against the British for allowing U.S. warplanes to use English bases for the April 15 air raids on Libya.
But Prime Minister Shimon Peres said he doubted the gunman knew his victim was British.
″We know these cases where someone falls on an innocent person from behind and tries to kill him. We are fighting this all the time, and we will have to fight it more,″ Peres told Israel Radio.
Appleby was shot in an isolated alleyway outside the Garden Tomb that is administered by a British-based foundation. He may not have known that the tomb, unlike most Christian shrines in the city, is closed to visitors on Sundays.
The Rev. William White of Dorset, who supervises the shrine, told Israel Radio that Appleby was carrying a bible when he was killed.
Roman Catholics, supported by most bible scholars, believe the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is several hundred yards from the Garden Tomb, covers the site of the crucifixion and burial.
Police on horseback kept back crowds of curious Palestinian onlookers who gathered within minutes of the shooting.
White said he ran to call police after a woman told him she heard a shot at 12:50 p.m.
″Almost in front of our eyes a life has been taken and this disturbs us. This is where we welcome pilgrims. It’s very upsetting,″ White told The Associated Press.
Two other tourists were wounded in shooting attacks, also near holy sites in the old walled city, since last month.
On April 16, a German woman was shot in the shoulder as she strolled the Via Dolorosa where Jesus is said to have carried his cross to crucifixion. On March 7, an American Jewish visitor was grazed in the head after shots were fired near the Western Wall remnant of the ancient Jewish temple and a bullet apparently ricocheted off the wall.
Military sources said last week they were trying to uncover four terror gangs operating out of Jerusalem’s Old City and the occupied West Bank.
Demanding anonymity, the sources said the gangs were responsible for recent attacks in and around Jerusalem, including the March 2 assassination of the Israeli-appointed mayor of Nablus, Zafer al-Masri.
As news of the shooting broke, Tourism Minister Avraham Sharir sent a telegram to New York-based Jewish businessman, Max Fisher, noting that recent attacks have reduced tourism to Israel by 40 percent since January, ministry spokeswoman Orly Yegoro said.
The loss has cost the troubled Israeli economy $30 million in lost revenues, Sharir wrote. He called on American Jewish leaders ″not to surrender to terrorism and to come visit Israel now.″
Fisher heads an effort called Project Independence, which is trying to increase foreign investment in Israel.