'Christian Zionism and Jewish Extremism'

Friday, August 05, 2005

Israeli killer was recruited to terror over the internet

From Stephen Farrell in Rishon Le Zion

THE far-right Israeli deserter who shot dead four Arabs on a Galilee bus was recruited over the internet by ultranationalist Jewish groups from a settlement where his friends last night celebrated the killing spree.

The parents and neighbours of the gunman told how within two years Eden Natan-Zada turned from a bright and studious Israeli schoolboy into an ultrareligious zealot implacably opposed to Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate Jews from Gaza.

As Israeli Arabs prayed for the dead, and Israelis feared more atrocities, Natan-Zada’s fellow radicals in the remote West Bank settlement of Tapuah hailed the 19-year-old as a hero.

In the Muslim, Christian and Druze Arab town of Shfar’am a Jewish cleric bearing a letter of apology from the Israeli chief rabbi mourned with thousands of the country’s 1.2 million Arab minority.

The gunman’s family could find nowhere to lay his headstone. The Israeli Government refused to let Natan-Zada be buried in a military cemetery, calling him a terrorist. His home town of Rishon Le Zion followed suit.

Inside the family’s tiny third-floor flat Natan-Zada’s father, Yitzhak, an Iranian-born Jew, was still dazed by his son’s actions. He said that the trouble began when his son discovered websites run by followers of the assassinated New York rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories. “He was supposed to get drafted but a month before that he met these religious people through the internet and everything changed from that point,” Mr Natan-Zada said.

“They convinced him. He said he would not serve because he had become religious, and then the antidisengagement protests started and he became even stronger in his beliefs that he shouldn’t serve in an army that would expel Jews.”

After weekends in the fervent religious surroundings of Tapuah, a hilltop settlement near Nablus occupied mainly by Kahane supporters, Natan-Zada absconded in mid-June and hid in a dilapidated white caravan.

There his closest friend, Avraham, packed up the killer’s belongings before heading to the abortive funeral.

“This was a very good act. In the future streets will be named after him, he will be a hero,” Avraham said. “All of us see him as a hero of Israel.”

Asked if he felt any sympathy for the victims, Avraham stared blankly. “As far as I am concerned they are an enemy. The ones who died are the same as the ones who lynched him,” he said. “Any Arab by being Arab is our enemy and the day will come when we will kill all of them.”

Israeli police arrested three settlers aged between 15 and 17 from Tapuah on suspicion of involvement in the attack. All were close friends of NatanZada, residents confirmed.


1995 Yigal Amir, who opposed the Oslo peace accords, killed Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, at a peace rally in Tel Aviv

1994 Baruch Goldstein, a US-born settler, killed 29 Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

1980s Intelligence services broke the “Jewish underground” which, during Israel’s pullout from Sinai, plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

1980 The group blew up Bassam Shakah, the Mayor of Nablus, with a car bomb. He lost both his legs. Other attacks injured the mayors of Ramallah and El Bireh

Mid-1980s The group killed three students at the Islamic College in Hebron and blew up five buses in East Jerusalem


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Milton Frihetsson, 5:44 PM | link | |