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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT - Part 2 of 4

JEWISH SETTLER TERRORISM AGAINST PALESTINIANS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP

JEWISH UNDERGROUND GROUPS

The United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories issued a detailed report in 1984 on the Jewish Underground Groups. One can ascertain from study of this report that the Jewish Underground Groups had close ties with current and former highly placed politicians, generals and members of the Israeli secret services. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Israeli authorities failed to pursue their investigation of Jewish terrorist groups, and this failure totally discredits any reputation for objectivity or accuracy claimed by the Israeli police. Following is the text of the United Nations report on Jewish Underground groups (25):

(i) The "Kach" group

In the early morning hours of 4 March 1984, an Arabowned bus carrying some 60 Arab workers was shot at as it was travelling on the Ramallah-Jericho road, near the village of Mazraat esh-Sharkiya. Six of the passengers were wounded, two of them seriously. Responsibility for the attack was claimed, in an anonymous telephone call, by "the Shelomo Ben-Yosef Brigade of TNT". (Ben-Yosef was the first Jew to be hanged in Palestine under the British Mandate, in June 1938, after being convictedforan attempted attack on an Arab bus.) On 6 March 1984, it was reported that the police and security agencies had arrested seven suspects believed to be responsible for the attack, and for other terrorist acts committed over the past months for which responsibility was claimed by the TNT organization. The suspects were reportedly United States citizens living in the settlements of Ofra, Shilo and Kiryat-Arba. Some of the suspects had reportedly served in the IDF, and claimed to be linked to the "El-Nakam" (Revengeful God") group, whose objective is to wreak vengeance on Arabs for Jewish victims of terrorism. The suspects had in their possession firearms, including a Kalashnikov assault rifle with which they are believed to have carried out the attack. On 7 March 1984, it was reported that three of the seven suspects were released, three others remanded in custody for 15 days, and a fourth suspect was remanded for 10 days. "Kach" leader, Rabbi Meir Kahane, told the press, on 6 March, 1984, that the four remanded suspects were his followers and that he would give them "legal and public support." A fifth suspect in connection with the attack on the Ara bus was reportedly arrested by police on 12 March, 1984. At the same time, more details were made public about the arrest of the five suspects, a list was published in Ha'aretz of the following 15 anti-Arab acts to which the TNT underground organization was linked: December 9, 1983: Unidentified persons set fire to six Arab-owned cars in the Abu-Tor neighborhood in Jerusalem.

December 9, 1983: Police bomb disposal experts defuse two booby trapped grenades at the entrance to the Franciscan monastery on Mount Zion, Jerusalem.

December 9, 1983: A booby-trapped grenade is defused at the entrance to the Greek Orthodox seminary on Mount Zion.

December 9, 1983: A booby-trapped grenade is defused at the entrance to the Dormition monastery in Jerusalem.

December 9, 1983: A booby-trapped grenade is defused at the entrance of the mosque in Beit-Safafa, near Jerusalem.

December 12, 1983: Three booby-trapped grenades in the village of Husan, south of Bethlehem: onegoesoff, damaging the house of Fatima Shusha; the other two are defused.

December 20, 1983: A booby-trapped grenade at the entrance of the mosque in the village of Eizariya. The device goes off when the muezzin, Omar Hussein, opens the mosque door. Hussein is slightly injured in the chest. Half an hour later a grenade goes off in the Greek Orthodox church in Eizariya. A nun is slightly injured. An unidentified callertells the IDF radio that TNT is responsible for both acts.

December 21, 1983: A failed attempt at setting fire to three Arab-owned cars near the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem.

December 23, 1983: Two petrol bombs are thrown at two Arab houses in the Shu'fat area in Jerusalem.

January 5, 1984: Unidentified persons set fire to a construction belonging to a messianic sect, near the Anglican church in Jerusalem. The worship place and library are damaged.

January 15, 1984:
A hand-grenadegoes off at the entrance of anun's apartment in the Russian convent in Ein-Karem, in West Jerusalem.

January 27, 1984: Two Waqf guards on the Temple Mount see two persons fleeing, on the Temple Mount wall, near the Golden Gate. The two leave behind them 13 kg. of explosives and 21 IDF-manufactured grenades, similar to the ones found in the previous acts.

February 26, 1984: Shots at a monk near the St. John the Baptist monastery (near Jerusalem).

March 4, 1984: A hand-grenade goes off near the "Hospice" hospital in East Jerusalem. March 4, 1984: Six Arab workers are injured from automatic fire at a bus near Ramallah.

On 27 March 1984, it was reported that charge sheets had been filed against four members of the "Kach"and the Jewish Defence League, Meir Leibowitz, Hazan Levy, Yehuda Richter and Mike Gozowsky. The four are charged with attacking an Arab bus near Mazraat esh-Sharkiya, on 4 March, injuring six Arab workers, setting fire to the editorial offices of Al Fajr in East Jerusalem; setting fire to Arab cars in Hebron and Jerusalem and throwing petrol bombs at Arabs in the Shu'fat neighborhood in Jerusalem. According to the charge sheets, the act of arson took place in July 1983, on 1 August 1983, and on 20-21 December 1983. On 22 December 1983, the gang members threw a petrol bomb at the house of Selim Hassin Awadallah in Shu'fat. A fifth man connected with the gang, Craig Leitner from Kiryat-Arba, would reportedly act as State's witness. At the request of the four defendants' attorney, Meir Shaechter, the hearing on the State's request to remand the defendants in custody until the termination of the legal proceedings was postponed to the following week. to give him time to study the charge sheets. (Jerusalem Post. 5, 7, 9, 11, 14 March 1984; Ha'aretz, 5, 6, 7, 13, 27 March 1984; Ma'ariv, 6, 11 March 1984; Yediot Aharonot, 27 March, 1984)

(ii) The Temple Mount group The arrest was reported, on 5 and 6 March 1984, of three men suspected of having carried out the sabotage attempt on the Temple Mount. According to the report the three men - two of whom were arrested in Jerusalem and the third one in Jaffa - were "religious eccentrics" with criminal records who lived in the abandoned Arab village of Lifta, in the western approaches of Jerusalem. On 8 March 1984, the police reportedly uncovered a "huge" weapons cache in Lifta. According to the police the material was still in its original IDF wrappers and cases. It was also reported that the three suspects were also being questioned about the Baptist church arson in Jerusalem in November 1982 and about several grenade attempts in the Jerusalem area over the past three months. The three suspects were reportedly co-operating with their investigators, and had shown police how they intended to blow up the Temple Mount mosques. A Jerusalem judge later reportedly remanded the three men to police custody - two for 15 days and the third one for 6 days. A fourth man was reportedly still being sought in Israel. On 9 March 1984, it was reported that the three suspects held by police in connection with the Temple Mount sabotage attempt had confessed to a grenade attack on the mosque at Nebi Samwil, near Jerusalem, one month earlier. On 21 March 1984, the names of the two principal suspects in the Temple Mount case were released for publication. A Jerusalem magistrate, Shimon Simha, extended their remand into custody for another 15 days. Justice Simha also issued a warrant of arrest against the man believed to be the head of the group, Shimon Barda, who was reportedly still at large. (Jerusalem Post, 8, 9. 12, 13 March 1984; Ha'aretz, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12,13,22 March 1984)

On 4 April 1984, Uzi Mahsia Alon, aged 46, and Yehuda Limai, aged 3 1, from the village of Lifta, at the entrance to West Jerusalem, were on 4 April charged at the Jerusalem District Court with conspiring and attempting to use explosives to cause damage to a holy place - the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa mosque in the Old City and with illegal possession and bearing of arms. Two other suspects, Shimon Barda and Eliahu Saror, were reportedly still at large. On 5 April 1984, the Jerusalem District Court ordered that the two suspects beexamined by a psychiatrist. Pending theexamination and a court's decisions on the prosecution request to detain the two until the end of their trial, the two suspects would remain in detention. (Jerusalem Post, 5, 6, April: Yediot Aharonot, 5 April, 1984)

(iii) The "Ein-Kerem" group On 9 April 1984, it was reported that the Jerusalem police were holding four youths from the Ein Kerem neighborhood in West Jerusalem on suspicion of carrying out sabotage acts, by planting booby-trapped hand-grenades at Christian and Muslim institutions in the Jerusalem area. The suspects were reportedly remanded into custody at closed sessions of the Ashkelon Magistrates Court on 27 and 29 March 1984 and were since held incommunicado in the Ashkelon jail. Police sources, on 9 April 1984, described the suspects as members of a "mystical-religious" group, which called itself "Terror Against Terror" or TNT. According to police sources the four had reconstructed several of the attacks attributed to them. The four are suspected, among other things, of planting grenades at three Christian sites on Mount Zion; planting four grenades in the village of Husan in Judea- one of which was uncovered and neutralized only on 9 April 1984; a grenade attack on the church in Eizariya in which anun was wounded; a grenade attempt in Beit-Safafa; and the attempted murder with a grenade of a nun at the Gomey White Russian Orthodox convent in Ein ~eren'). All these acts occurred over several months and, with the exception of the sabotage acts in Husan and Eizariya, were committed in Israel. It was emphasized that there was "absolutely no connection" between the Bin Kerem group and the "Temple Mount" group from Lifta, whose members had been arrested earlier. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Yediot Aharonot, 9 April; Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, 10 April 1984)

(iv) The so-called "Underground" On 29 April 1984, it was reported that at least 15 persons, reportedly leading activists in the settlement movementsfrom the West Bank settlements of Beit-El Kedumim, Hebron and Kiryat-Arba and from the Golan, were arrested by police in theearly morning hours of Friday, 27 April 1984, after bombs were found in six Arab-owned buses in the Jerusalem area. At least one officer from the army and one reserve officer were reportedly among the suspects. Police said that the arrests followed two years of "intensive activity". The bombs, which were neutralized by bomb disposal experts, weighed about four kilograms each. They were planted under the buses and were timed to go off on Friday afternoon, presumably to coincided with people returning home from celebrating the Muslim holiday of Isra Wal Me'eraj. Police reportedly recovered arms held by the suspects in various settlements, and in nearby orchards they unearthed caches of mines from which the detonators had been removed. According to Ha'aretz an agent who himself took part in the sabotage attempt informed the General Security services about it. Owing to the black-out imposed by the censorship no details were available regarding the suspects' identity. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Yediot Aharonot, 29 April 1984)

It was reported on 30 April 1984 that nearly all those arrested by the security forces were well known and highly regarded in the Gush Emunim movement. Some were reportedly leaders of the religious wing of former chief of staff Rafael Eitan's "Tzomet" movement. The Council of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, at a meeting in the settlement of Ofra, did not condemn the attempted sabotage of the buses and demanded that the police and security forces lift the veil of secrecy imposed on the investigation and reveal the evidence they hold against the suspected members of the underground. It was reported that the investigation team comprised 90 police officers under the command of Tat-Nitzav Armand Levy, head of the serious crimes division at national police headquarters, as well as an unspecified number of other security forces personnel. Police reportedly continued to carry out arrests and question prominent settlers, including one of the founders of Gush Emunim, resident of Ofra. Rabbi Moshe Levinger and the Kiryat-ArbaCouncil secretary Aharon Domb were reportedly questioned, but not arrested. Most of the suspects were reportedly remandedby magistrates; court into custody for 15 days. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Yediot Aharonot, 30 April 1984)

The security forces, on 3 May 1984, reportedly sealed off Kiryat-Arba and carried out searches for weapons and sabotage materials. During the operation, which lasted several hours, non-residents were not allowed into the settlement and residents had to produce their ID cards to be allowed in. According to one report the security forces discovered arms and explosives, including IDF-issue arms handed over to the settlers as part of the regional defence programme, which were subsequently reported as missing. IDF grenades and explosives were also reportedly discovered. (Ha'aretz, 4 May 1984; Jerusalem Post, 6 May 984)

Seven more suspects were reportedly arrested from 5 May to 8 May 1984 bringing the number of suspects in custody to 26. The suspects are reportedly settlers from Ofra and Shilo, and they include a major in the regular army who, at the time of the attack on the West Bank mayors, held a key post in the military government in Ramallah. Investigative sources reportedly said that the intent of at least one of the network's cells was to "frighten the Palestinians into a mass exodus." Another cell planned an attack in East Jerusalem in April 1982, hoping to force the Government to stop the peace process with Egypt by postponing the final withdrawal from Sinai. The sources also confirmed there was a plot to attack Bir Zeit University. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Ma'ariv, 8 May 1984)

Two more persons, from Keshet in the Golan and from Jerusalem, were reportedly arrested on 8 and 9 May in connection with the activities of the Jewish underground. It was also reported that the reconstruction of the sabotage attempt against the deposed mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shaka'a, was held on 9 May 1984 under heavy military guard. (Ha'aretz, 10 May 1984)

Rabbi Moshe Levinger and another rabbi associated with Gush Emunim were reportedly questioned on 10 May 1984 about the underground activities and their prior knowledge of plans to carry out the sabotage acts against the Arab population. It was also reported that several members of the alleged Jewish underground had plotted to blow up the Al-Aksa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount, and hadexperimented with explosives for that purpose. It was reported, in that context, that some of the suspects led the investigators to hundreds of kilograms of explosives which they had hidden in underground caches near the Golan settlement of Nuv. for the blowing up of the Temple Mount mosques. (Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, 1 1 May 1984; Ma'ariv, 13 May 1984)

On 23 May 1984, the State Attorney's office filed charge sheets with the Jerusalem magistrate's court against 25 suspects in the Jewish underground case. Six of the accused were charged with premeditated murder and 12 with attempted murder. All were accused of membership in, or activities on behalf of, a terrorist organization. In addition, 18 have been accused of planning to blow up the Dome of the Rock, and others are accused of stealing arms and explosives from the army and of being members of a conspiracy. The charge sheets describe in detail six acts, or abortive acts, carried out over the past four years against Arab personalities and targets in the territories. The charges include the attempted assassination of West Bank mayors in May 1980. According to the charge sheets, in addition to Bassam Shaka'a of Nablus, Karim Khalaf of Ramallah and Ibrahim Tawil of El-Bireh, the list of targets was also to include Ibrahim Dakkak, an East Jerusalem engineer who at the time was the head of the National Guidance Committee, and Dr. Ahmed Hamza Natshe from Bethlehem. The third act was the attack, in July 1983, on the Islamic College in Hebron, in which three people were killed and 33 injured. All of those involved in the attack, including a person who provided a runaway car, are charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder. The fourth episode in the charge sheets is the recent attempt to blow up five Arab-owned buses in East Jerusalem. The fifth case concerns the planting of booby-trapped grenades outside two mosques in Hebron in which two people were injured, and the sixth case deals with the planting of booby-trapped grenades in the courtyard of the Hussein school in Hebron, injuring two pupils. All the accused are reported to have signed confessions. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, 24 May 1984)

On 24 May 1984, police arrested Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, head of the Kiryat-Arba Yeshiva, on suspicion of having known of the alleged terrorist group's activities. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was released on bail. It was also reported that charges were filed on 24 May 1984 against two army officers serving with the West Bank military government, alleging that they knew of the plans to attack the mayors and did nothing to prevent them. The charge sheet alleges that one of the officers knew that the bomb had been placed outside the garage of the former mayor of El-Bireh, Ibrahim Tawil, and said nothing when the Israeli Druse sapper Suleiman Hirbawi started his search. Hirbawi was blinded when he touched a trip-wire. One of the officers is a major and a resident of the West Bank settlement of Shilo. Both officers face charges of causing grievous bodily harm, dereliction of duty and failure to prevent a crime. One also faces charges of attempting murder or, alternately, placing an explosive charge. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Yediot Aharonot, 25 May 1984)

In a statement to the police, made by one of the defendants in the alleged Jewish underground case, it was stated that one of the main objectives of the group was to "purify the Temple Mount from Muslim possession in order to bring about the redemption of Israel and the establishment of the promised kingdom of Israel." The defendant reportedly affirmed in his statement that no actual plan was ever agreed upon for blowing up the Dome of the Rock; there was no target date but preparations included the stealing of explosives from an army base in the Golan and obtaining aerial photos of the area. In another development, it was reported that the two IDFofficers allegedly involved in the attack, in Junde 1980. on the three West Bank mayors were on 3 June remanded in custody until the end of their trial. Both defendants also faced charges of causing grievous bodily harm, dereliction of duty and of failure to prevent a crime. It was further reported that the two IDF officers, and a third one involved in the Jewish underground case, whose name was not disclosed, would be dismissed from their IDF posts shortly. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, 4 June 1984; Yediot Aharonot, 5 June 1984)

A Jerusalem District Court judge, on 7 June 1984, sentenced Mr. Noam Yinon - the first person to be convicted in the Jewish underground case - to 18 months' imprisonment, and another 18 months' suspended sentence for three years. Mr. Yinon, of the Golan settlement of Keshet, was originally charged together with theother24defendants in thecase, with membership in a terrorist organization, attempted murder and the illegal possession of weapons. But following a plea bargaining he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of illicit possession and transport of explosives - and his trial was held separately. Mr. Yinon transported 50 Syrian mines on the Golan Heights, from Keshet to another settlement, Nuv. The explosives recovered from the mines he transported were later used to make the bombs that were planted under the five Arab-owned buses in East Jerusalem in April 1984. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, 8 June 1984)

The former mayors of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Mr. Karim Khalaf and Mr. Ibrahim Tawil, on 12 June 1984, reportedly appointed an East Jerusalem advocate, Mr. Darwich Nasser, to be an observer on their behalf at the trial of the members of the alleged Jewish underground. Mr. Nasser reportedly asked the State Attorney for permission to examine the files in the case, but was refused on the grounds that Israeli law does not recognize the status of an "observer" and limits access to the files to the prosecution and the defence. (Jerusalem Post, 13 June 1984)

Mr. Gilad Peli, aged 31, of the settlement of Keshet on the Golan, was convicted on 14 June 1984 of membership of a terrorist organization, causing grievous bodily harm, attacking the Dome of the Rock, damaging army property and illegally possessing and transporting weapons. Mr. Peli had pleaded guilty following a plea bargaining under which a charge of activity on behalf of a terrorist organization was modified to membership, and a charge of attempted murder was modified to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and to plant an explosive charge. On 21 June 1984, Mr. Peli was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, plus another three years to be served concurrently with the first five years in jail. Another member of the underground, Mr. Yosef Zuria of Ramat Hasharon, on 14 June 1984, pleaded guilty ot charges of conspiracy to attack the Temple Mount, illegal possessions of weapons parts and aggravated fraud. He was convicted on his own admission following plea bargaining with the prosecution. (JerusalemPost, Ha'aretz, 15 and 22 June 1984)

The trial of 22 men accused of membership of a Jewish terrorist organization in the West Bank and the Golan Heights reportedly opened on 17 June 1984 before the Jerusalem District Court. Of the original 27 people arrested in connection with the case three had already been convicted by their own admission and two others, who are serving army officers accused of complicity in the attack on the West Bank mayors and other prominent personalities, faced separate proceedings. Six of the defendants reportedly faced charges of murder of the pupils of the Islamic College in Hebron, and activity in a terrorist organization; four were facing charges of causing grievous bodily harm and activity in a terrorist organization, and the remaining 12 were facing charges of attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm, illegal bearing of weapons and membership of a terrorist organization. The trial would be held before the Judges Yaacov Bazak (presiding judge), Shamuel Finkelman and Dr. Zvi Cohen, the prosecution would be represented by the advocates Dorit Beinish, Uzi Hasson and Iscakibovitz. The defence would be represented by 12 advocates. A defence source said that all the defendants would plead not guilty, but would admit the deeds attributed to them. (Jerusalem Post, 17 and 18 June; Yediot Aharaonot, 17 June; Ha'aretz, 18 June 1984)

On 18 June 1984, Jerusalem District Court Judge Yisrael Wiener lifted the ban on publication of the names of the defendants in the case. Following the lifting of the ban a central figure in Gush Emunim, Mr, Meir Indor reportedly declared that leading military figures and politicians had encouraged settlers "before and after" the attack on the West Bank mayors, "to take actions that a democratic state cannot do." In another development, a defence source confirmed that the State and the defence had agreed that the trial would not resume until September, after the summer court recess. Among the defendants are Mr. Menahem Livni, the head of the Committee of the Renewal of Jewish Settlement in Hebron, considered as the ringleader of the group; Mr. Natan Natanson - Gush Emunim's Secretary-General; Mr. Benzion Heineman, the man who planned the first Gush Emunim action with Rabbi Moshe Levinger, and Mr. Yehuda Etzion, a founder of Ofra and former member of the Gush Emunim secretariat. It was reported that the seven defendants facing charges of murder in connection with the attackon the Islamic College in Hebron had already been remanded in custody until the end of their trials. Mr. Aharon Gila, one of the army officers on trial separately for their involvement in the underground's activities, was also remanded in custody until the end of his trial. An appeal by him for release on bail was turned down by the Supreme Court on 18 June 1984. (Jerusalem Post, 19 June 1984)

On 27 June 1984, Jerusalem District Court Judge Yisrael Weiner ordered the remand in custody until the end of their trial of 21 of the defendants in the Jewish underground case. One defendant, Mr. Moshe Zar, was permitted to be released on bail of IS 2.25 million "for health reasons," after several conditions were met. (Ma'ariv, 28 June 1984)

The three judges of the Jerusalem District Court hearing the Jewish underground case on 27 June 1984 decided to hold two separate trials: one against the six persons charged with murder of the Islamic College students; the second trial, whose date was already set for 26 September 1984, was against 20 defendants (including the six in the first trial), in connection with the Temple Mount bombing pilot, the attack against the West Bank mayors and the booby-trapping of the Arab buses. (Ha'aretz, 28 June 1984)

The Jerusalem District Court, on 19 June 1984, sentenced Yehuda Cohen, one of the members of the alleged terrorist underground, to one-and-a-half years in prison and two years suspended. Cohen was convicted of taking part in the plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount. (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, 20 July 1984)

The aforementioned trials and sentences of Jewish settler terrorists indicate the laxity of Israel's so-called justice system when it is applied to Jews who commit terrorist acts against Palestinians. If the crimes with which these settlers were charged had been committed by Palestinians against Jews, extremely harsh punishments would have been imposed. It is important to note that these criminals represent the mere tip of an iceberg; the majority of settler terrorists remain protected by the highest levels of the Israeli government.

Prior to their arrest, members of Jewish underground groups carried out a multitude of terrorist attacks against Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza, including the June 1980 car bomb attacks against Mayors Bassam Shak'a of Nablus and Karim Khalaf of Ramallah. Both were severely injured. Shak'a lost both of his legs while Khalaf's foot had to be amputated. A third Palestinian mayor, Ibrahim Tawil of Al Bireh, escaped injury. An explosive device planted in his garage door exploded while being defused by an Israeli Border Police sapper who consequently was blinded. Two senior officers in the Israeli military government, Maj. Shlomo Leviatan and Capt. Ronnie Gila, were convicted on 14 April 1986 for their role in this terrorist attack, specifically for failing to warn their army colleague, a Druze named Suleiman Hirbawi, of the location of the bomb he was dispatched to defuse. (26)

In July 1983, members of this settler terrorist group also attacked the Islamic College campus in Hebron with machine guns and grenades, killing three students and injuring forty others. In April 1984, several members of JTN were apprehended while planting explosive charges under Arab buses waiting to transport Palestinian workers in Jerusalem. Consequently, JTN was exposed and 30 of its members, including several reserve officers and one career officer in the Israeli army, were convicted and sentenced in 1985 to prison ternis.

Eight convicted Jewish terrorists were released from jail. Five allegedly completed their prison terms. Three others, including Uri Maier, Dan Be'eri and Yosef Zuria, had their sentences commuted by so-called President Chaim Herzog. (27)

The Lifta group, a relatively small gang of Jewish terrorists who were arrested in January 1984 while attempting to blow up Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem using 60 Ibs. of explosives. The intruders were spotted by local Palestinian security guards after scaling the eastern wall of the Haram Al Sharif area. The group were named after an abandoned Palestinian village outside Jerusalem where they hid their explosives and weapons. They however identified themselves as "the Tribe of Judah."

During their 1985 trial, members of this gang were described as "mystical extremists" who were "emotionally unstable." In the past, terrorists who were apprehended and convicted of similar attacks against Al Aqsa and other holy places were also classified by the Israelis as "confused,"' "eccentrics," or "mentally deranged." This was the case of Australian Dennis Michael Rohan in 1969, and that of American Allan H. Goodman in 1983. (28)

Terror Against Terror (TNT) is composed of extremist Jewish-American settlers associated with Kach. the racist political movement founded and led by the American-born Rabbi, Meir Kahane, a convicted criminal in the United States. The core of TNT are mostly young Jewish immigrants from New York who were active in the Brooklyn chapter of the Jewish Defence League (JDL) prior to emigration from the U.S. to Israel.

Members of TNT have been accused of planting explosives in Christian and Muslim holy places in addition to assaulting innocent Palestiniancivilians and vandalizing their property throughout the occupied territories. According to Robert I. Friedman, Rabbi Meir Kahane established TNT in the mid-seventies as a "worldwide, Jewish anti-terror group" that would "spread fear and shatter souls" of Israel's Arabs, forcing them to flee for their lives.29 Friedman quotes Israeli police officials confirming the link between Rabbi Kahane and TNT which "committed hundreds of terrorist bombings and beatings, as well as several murders." (30)

THE SCANDAL OF THE KARP REPORT

That the failure to prevent Jewish settler terrorism against the Palestinians is a deliberate policy of the Israeli government is indicated by the scandal surrounding the Karp Report, which was the report of a Commission of the so-called Israeli Ministry of Justice submitted on May 23, 1982. "The Commission was under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Yehudit Karp, the Deputy Attorney-General who resigned her Chairmanship in May 1983 in protest at Government inaction. Details of the report were kept from the public until 1984." (31)

The United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories reported, inter alia, on the facts concerning the Karp Report scandal:

Deputy Attorney-General Yehudit Karp reportedly complained, in a letter to Justice Minister Moshe Nissim, that the faults in law enforcement procedures in the territories which she had pointed out in her May 1982 report, had still not been corrected. She emphasized that failure to take measures to improve the handling of law enforcement in the territories could lead to a further deterioration. She said that according to new complaints she had received recently, inquiries were not carried out, and those which were conducted were not completed. It was also alleged that suspects (in cases of Jewish vigilantism in the territories) were not put on trial. (Ha'aretz, 5 January 1984) At a Cabinet meeting held on 5 February 1984, on the eve of the submission of thereport prepared by Deputy Attorney- General Yehudit Karp to the Knesset Law Committee and to the Government ministers, the Government unanimously adopted a resolution providing that whoever breaks the law in the territories shall be liable to penalties laid down by the law, and that the enforcement of law and public order in the territories is the duty of the IDF command, with the assistance of the police and other security bodies. (Ha'aretz, 6 February 1984)

On 7 February 1984, the Karp report was released. The 33-page report was drawn up by a committee headed by Deputy Attorney-General Yehudit Karp and also consisting of the Jerusalem District Attorney, the legal advisers to the West Bank military government and the head of the Israel Police prosecutions division. The Committee had been appointed in April 1981 by Attorney-General Yitzhak Zamir in response to a letter from several former colleagues at the Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities' law faculties expressing concern that complaints from Arabs about offences by Jews were not being adequately pursued. The Committee examined 70 complaints from Arabs regarding alleged offences by Jewish settlers, over a period of one year, beginning in May 1981. Fifty-three of the investigations into these complaints ended with no action being taken. Files were closed because of the inability to trace suspects, lack of evidence, or the absence of public interest. In addition to the examination of the performance of the Israeli Police, the Committee also examined several investigations by the military police. It found that a lack of coordination between the two agencies severely hampered the efficacy of their operation. The Committee noted that, while it was not authorized to examine the IDF policy regarding the use of firearms, the increase in the number of local Arab residents wounded in the head and upper body raised the need for a re-examination of this policy. It also found that in several instances where the Border Police was involved in alleged offences against local residents, its own internal investigations were incomplete. No information on these investigations was provided. (32)

The gravity of the scandal of the so-called Israeli justice system when applied to Jewish settler crimes committed against Palestinians is dramatically illustrated in the cases of homicide described in the Karp Report itself. Following is an extract taken from the report:

An even graver picture emerges on this topic in the investigation of fatal incidents in the villages of Sinjil and Beni Na'im. In both cases, when the murder suspects were summoned to appear before the police they announced that they would not come, and that they dealt only with the military government. The police did nothing to bring the suspects to the police station, despite the grave suspicion, and the arrest warrant issued against the suspect in the Beni Na'im murder was not implemented, under circumstances that demanded clarification. In the caseof Beni Na'im, adelegation including the head of the Kiryat Arb Council and a representative of the Gush Etzion Council turned up three days later and, according to Superintendent Kalij, told the police, citing military government authorities, that there would be no cooperation, and that the police and the Jerusalem District Attorney were hostile. They said they would not convey their version of the incident unless they received instructions from the political echelon. It should be noted that one of the suspects was amember of the delegation, and that he was not questioned on that occasion. As a result, the suspects were not located, and not until six days after the incident were the police able to gather evidence (and this on a case of manslaughter, or suspicion of murder, when the suspects were well-known). This, of course, had direct implications for the investigation itself. It is hard to believe that this is how a case involving a death would be investigated in Israel. (33)

Jewish Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal has been lionized by the mass-media for his efforts to uncover Nazi war criminal "murderers among us." But as the report of Mrs. Karp indicates, and the subsequent continued inaction by the so-called Israeli government today, no one is seeking the "murderers among us" if they happen to be Jewish settlers who are guilty of killing Palestinian Arabs.

PROFILES OF JEWISH SETTLER TERRORISTS

Jewish settler terrorism is a direct product of the exclusivist Zionist philosophy which seeks to settle a territory inhabited by "non-Jews" whose human, civil and political rights are of no consequence in the broader scheme of "ingathering the exiles" of so-called "chosen people" and redeeming the land from "goyim" who have no right to own it or even live on it according to the tenets of Zionism.

In other words, Jewish settlers who engage infrequent acts of terrorism against the Palestinian civilian inhabitants of the occupied territories are not on the fringe of Israeli society, as is often claimed by Zionist apologists, but are the contemporary champions of the Zionist dream. They are the latest version of mainstream Zionist pioneers seeking to fulfill the political objectives of classical Zionism. Thus, their hateful and antagonistic attitude toward the Palestinians is not new. It is typical of the Zionist view of Arabs from the very beginning of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. "Most Zionists," as Jay Y. Gonen put it, "displayed a blind spot in their view of the Arabs, a blind spot that started as a total lack of vision and later became distorted vision. The absence of the Arabs from the Jewish visual field was total." (34)

Second, settler terrorism is also the direct product and natural consequence of official Israeli policies and practices of military occupation and domination of the West Bank and Gaza, where, for over 20 years, the Israeli government has persistently oppressed the Palestinian population under its military control by denying them their basic civil, human and political rights such as freedom of thought and expression, freedom of assembly, the right to national self-determination. the right of due process of law, the right to life, the right to property, etc....

Under such a system of arbitrary military rule, which relies heavily on the use of force to intimidate the Palestinians into submission or exile in violation of all principles of international law concerning the rights of civilian population under occupation, Jewish settlers, who perceive of themselves as "an arm of the state whose purpose is to establish order, to punish, to impose sanctions, etc.," (35) see no contradiction at all between their terroristic vigilantism and official policy of occupation and unwanted rule over another people. The distinction between the two is not only academic but totally rejected by most Jewish settlers, who view their violence against situations where the government seems hampered by political or legal considerations.

Therefore, Jewish settlers are not merely a small group of vigilantes on the fringe of Israeli society who have taken the law into their own hands in violation of Israeli law and administration practices. On the contrary, they are an integral part of Israel's military occupation apparatus, a fact that has been repeatedly established by impartial Israeli investigators and researchers.

Most Jewish settlers past the age of 18 years serve either as regular or reserve members of the Israeli army. Furthermore, according to the report on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories 1979-1983, published by the International Center for Peace in the Middle East based in Tel Aviv, "most Jewish settlers were taken out of their reserve units and posted in 'Extended Defense Units' (whose role is to defend the settlement) in their area of residence. Residents of the area are, in practice, an armed army unit under the command of a resident of one of the settlements .... The settlers are counted as part of the army's forces in the area. The settlers who choose to see themselves as part of the security forces interpret their status broadly and permissively. Most of the Israeli establishment as well, accepts in practice this broad interpretation, and almost totally avoids putting it to test or questioning it.'' (36)

During the trial of the Jewish Terrorist Network (JTN) members in 1985, defendants admitted that their terrorist activities were planned and executed with the knowledge and assistance of two senior officials in the "Civilian Administration." Aharon Gila and Shlomo Leviatan were recently convicted for their role in the June 1980 attack against Palestinian mayors in the West Bank. Gila was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court to 15 months in prison and Leviatan to three months for indirectly causing sapper Suleiman Hirbawi to lose his eyesight as the bomb he tried to defuse at Mayor Ibrahim Tawil's garage door exploded in his face.

Thus, by extending financial support for the settlers, granting them permission to bear arms, incorporating them within the official military apparatus in the area, and consistently failing to hold them accountable for their vigilantism against the civilian population of the territories, Israel is clearly supporting their campaign of terror. These facts give credence to the charge that settler violence against the Palestinians is a form of state-sponsored terrorism.

Most members of the Settler Terrorist underground belong to Gush Emunim (the Bloc of the Faithful), an extremist nationalist-messianic movement seeking to impose Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territories of 1967 and to prevent Israeli withdrawal from any part of the "land of Israel" within the context of a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Members of the Gush adopted the fanatical religious messianic doctrines of Rabbi Avraham Hacohen Kook and his son, Rabbi Tsvi Yehuda Kook, who regard Zionism and the settlement of "Greater Eretz Yisrael" as a prelude to the redemption of Israel and the arrival of the Messiah. (37)

According to the West Bank Handbook, "Gush Emunim is not an institutionalized movement.'' It functions however through the Jewish settlement organizations (YESHA) and the settlement movement (AMANA). The Gush is estimated to have several thousand members who are active in support of Jewish settlement throughout the occupied territories. Their religious messianism, settlement activity, anti-Arab rhetoric, opposition to territorial compromise and preoccupation witn national security have "gained them considerable support among large segments of the Israeli population." They are supported by most settlers in addition to members of the Likud, the National Religious Party (NRP), Techiya, Meir Kahane's Kach party and other religious and extremist groups. (38)

The late Professor Uriel Tal of Tel Aviv explains that members of Gush Emunim believe that they have entered the Messianic Era during which the Land of Israel is being liberated not only from political enemies but from evil and corruption. They firmly adhere to the belief that there is no place for non-Jews in the State of Israel, nor is there a place for human or civil rights since they are considered part of the corrupt influence of Western civilization which must be purged. (39)

Settlers' attitudes toward the Arabs are best summarized by Zionist extremist Andy Green. He states that "the Arabs have no claim to the land. It's our land absolutely. It says so in the Bible. It's something that can't be argued. That's why I see no reason to sit down and talk to the Arabs about competing claims. Whoever is stronger will get the land."40 As to settlers' motivation, Yona Khaykin, a Jewish settler terrorist told Robert 1. Friedman: "We came to Hebron out of a sense of adventure and outrage ... The adventure is building a Jewish kingdom. The outrage is that the Arabs still live here." His wife, Malka Khaykin, added: "The Arabs are worse than the niggers but not by much." (41)

Such vile, racist sentiments are held by the typical Jewish settler terrorist. These inhuman ideas are conceived in the womb of the racist Zionist ideology; nurtured in the armed forces of the so-called State of Israel; perpetuated by the financial support of the U.S. Government and naive American Jews; and blossom into a nightmare of murder and mayhem committed without restraints or fear of punishment. The following biographical sketches give detailed backgrounds of 25 suspected Jewish settler terrorists. Their common denominators invite serious psychiatric studies, yet in a field in which there are many prominent Jewish doctors, it is shocking that there has been scant attention paid to the overtly psychopathic homicidal behavior of the Jewish terrorists.

 

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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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