View Full Version : Jewish Extremist Opens Fire, Killing 4 Arabs

08-04-2005, 10:20 PM
Jewish extremist opens fire, killing 4 Arabs
13 wounded in bloody incident; gunman bludgeoned to death



Updated: 8:18 p.m. ET Aug. 4, 2005

JERUSALEM - A 19-year-old Israeli soldier opened fire inside a bus Thursday, killing four Israeli Arabs before being killed by an angry mob — the deadliest attack on Arabs in Israel by a Jewish extremist since 1990.

Thirteen people, including bus passengers and two policemen, were wounded in the shooting, which appeared to be tied to tensions over this month's Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

The military tentatively identified the gunman as Pvt. Edan Natan Zaada, a resident of the extremist Jewish settlement of Tapuah in the West Bank. Zaada's father, Yitzhak, told The Associated Press that his son ran away from his army unit several weeks ago, after he was told he would have to participate in the Gaza pullout.

Gunman beat to death
Israel Radio said the gunman was bludgeoned to death by an angry crowd. After the attack, the gunman's body was seen on the floor of the bus. Police had covered his head with a black plastic bag. His shirtless upper torso was heavily bruised and bloodied.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced the shooting as "a despicable act by a bloodthirsty terrorist" and ordered police to give top priority to the investigation. Settler leaders also condemned the attack.

Security officials have been warning for months that Jewish militants, desperate to sabotage Israel's pullout, might attack Arabs to deflect forces away from the Gaza pullout. The police commissioner, Moshe Karadi, warned that the shooting could trigger more violence.

The shooting took place on the No. 165, which shuttles between the Arab town of Shfaram in northern Israel and nearby communities.

At around 6 p.m., the bearded gunman, who wore an Israeli army uniform, boarded the bus and opened fire. Police said the attacker wore a skullcap, identifying him as an Orthodox Jew.

Four people were killed, including the driver. Police said the four apparently were all Shfaram residents.

Bus seats stained with blood
The windows of the bus were shattered. Blood stained some of the seats. A policeman with a bullhorn, standing near the body, addressed a crowd of thousands at the scene.

At Rambam Hospital in the nearby port city of Haifa, anxious family members of the wounded gathered around a TV set in the lobby, watching television news of the unfolding events.

Yitzhak Zaada, 49, the father of the suspected gunman, said he has been requesting that the army find his son, who fled from his unit after refusing to participate in the Gaza pullout. Zaada said he was concerned his son's weapons would fall into the hands of fanatics in Tapuah.

Father of suspected gunman shocked
"I wasn't afraid that he would do something. I was afraid of the others," Zaada said in a telephone interview. He said he had no indication his son would carry out such an act. "I spoke to him two days ago and he was a happy and good-hearted boy and he told me he would find the time to return the weapon," Zaada said.

Tapuah is one of the most extreme Jewish settlements, dominated by followers of U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, who believed in expelling Arabs from Israel and the West Bank. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990. Israel TV said Zaada was a deserter from his army unit who grew up in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion and moved to the settlement recently.

There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years, but rarely inside Israel. In 1990, during the first Palestinian uprising, an Israeli opened fire at a bus stop where Palestinians gathered for job placements, killing seven.

In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish settler entered a holy site in the West Bank city of Hebron and opened fire on Muslim worshippers, killing 29 — the bloodiest attack by a Jewish extremist against Palestinians.

Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population of 6.9 million. They remained in their homes during the 1948-49 war that followed creation of the state of Israel, while hundreds of thousands of others fled or were driven out. Though Israeli Arabs are full citizens, they have suffered from discrimination by Jewish-dominated governments. Many of their towns and villages lack basic infrastructure, and Arab localities are usually at the top of Israel's unemployment lists.

Anger spilled over in October 2000, when thousands of Arabs rioted in support of the Palestinian uprising, which erupted the month before. Israeli police shot and killed 13 Arabs, further infuriating and alienating many Arab citizens.

Gaza pullout protest continues
In southern Israel, meanwhile, opponents of the pullout ended their second mass protest Thursday, after police blocked their plan to march to Gaza to reinforce the doomed settlements. A few hundred protesters remained behind in the town of Ofakim, including settlers' council head Bentsi Lieberman, who denounced the shooting.

"Murder is murder is murder, and there can be no other response but to denounce it completely and express revulsion," he said.

Karadi said forces had been diverted to deal with the demonstrators, leaving the north of Israel short-handed. "We have sent forces from the center and those from the south who were supposed to be going home have now been diverted to the north," he said.

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