Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Violence in Eretz Hakodesh
by Mordecai Plaut

The shaken residents of Eretz Yisroel tried to continue with their regular affairs, shaken by the rising violence and cruelty of the Palestinian attacks on innocent children, women and peaceful citizens.

Five Israelis were killed on Tuesday morning in terror attacks.

The first attack happened in Tel Aviv around 2.15 A.M. when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on two restaurants. The trademark of one of them, Sea Food Market, is a large orange shrimp. The Palestinian murdered three before he was killed. Fourteen were injured.

Devora Friedman Hy"d, 46, of Efrat was killed and her husband was lightly injured when gunmen opened fire on their car Tuesday morning on the Tunnel Road connecting the Gush Etzion block of settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem.

Around 8.30 A.M. Tuesday morning, a suicide bomber blew himself up on an almost empty bus in Afula, killing one. Eighteen people were taken to the Haemek hospital in the northern town.

Also on Tuesday morning, a bomb exploded in the yard of a Palestinian school in Zur Bachar, a village on the eastern edge of Jerusalem. Eight people were injured in the attack; a teacher was moderately hurt and seven children lightly injured.

Some accused Jewish vigilantes of the attack, but there is no evidence of this. Police said that it may have been a bomb being prepared for an attack that went off prematurely.

Twenty-two people were killed in four terrorist attacks in less than 24 hours from almost right after Shabbos: in Jerusalem, the Judean Desert, near Ofra in Samaria, and at the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip.

At 7:13 p.m. on motzei shabbos, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives, packed with shrapnel designed to maim if not kill, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisroel, killing ten people -- including a seven month old infant and her mother, an eighteen month old infant, girls aged 7 and 3, a 12-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, Hy"d -- and wounding at least 57. Seven of those murdered were from a single family from Rishon Letzion.

Close to 8 p.m. the body of Jerusalem police detective Moshe Dayan Hy"d from Ma'aleh Adumim was discovered near the Mar Saba Monastery in the Judean Desert. He was shot a number of times as he rode his motorcycle in the desert.

The next morning at 6:30 a.m., a Palestinian sniper perched on a hilltop overlooking an army roadblock in the Halamiya Valley north of Ofra, shot and killed seven soldiers and three civilians, Hy"d, and wounded four others. The sniper then escaped, leaving his carbine rifle behind.

An hour later, a Palestinian gunman set up an ambush near a guard post south of the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip. The gunman opened fire, killing one Hy"d and wounding four others, one moderately.

The next day, seven members of the same family killed in the suicide bombing in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood were laid to rest in Rishon Lezion.

First came the burials of five members of the Nehmad family from Rishon Lezion, who had come to Jerusalem for a bar mitzva celebration: Shlomo, 40; his wife, Gafnit, 32; and their daughters Shiraz, seven, and Liran, three, Hy"d.

The couple's 15-year-old nephew, Shauli Nehmad Hy"d, murdered when he went out to bring his family wine for havdallah, was laid to rest minutes later. His brother is in very serious condition in the hospital.

Next came the funerals of the two children of Shlomo's sister, Ronit: Lidor Ilan Hy"d, 12, and his 18-month- old sister, Oriah Hy"d.

The couple have one remaining child, Noi, eight, who is recovering from her wounds in the hospital.

The seven members of the Nehmad family who perished in the bombing were the most members of one family killed in a terror attack since five members of the Schijveschuurder family were killed last August in a suicide bombing at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria.

The two other victims of the attack, Tzofia Ya'arit Eliahu Hy"d, 23, and her seven-month-old son, Ya'acov Avraham Eliahu Hy"d, who lived in Beit Yisrael, were laid to rest in Moshav Noam, south of Kiryat Gat.

The young mother, who was newly religious and had moved to Jerusalem in search of a more spiritual life together with her husband (who was not wounded in the attack), was on her way home down the block from the site of the attack when the bomber set off his explosives.

Twenty-four hours after the attack, five people remained in serious conditiony at Jerusalem's two Hadassah-University Hospitals.

The site of the attack has been targeted before. Last February, a car bomb ripped through a side street in the neighborhood just meters away from the last attack, but miraculously failed to cause any serious injury.

Upon hearing the news of the attack, hundreds of Palestinians at the Dehaishe refugee camp staged an impromptu celebration, chanting, "Revenge, revenge," and firing guns into the air.

Initial IDF findings indicated only one Palestinian sniper perpetrated the attack that left ten dead north of Ofra. Only after his carbine was damaged by the soldiers' fire did he flee the area unharmed, heading toward the village of Sinjil in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory. According to Palestinian sources, three terrorists participated in the attack.

Throughout the day, Palestinians jeered that a sniper armed with a carbine dating back to World War II succeeded in shooting "occupation" soldiers armed with M-16 assault rifles.

According to the IDF, the soldiers manning the roadblock were all reservists from the Engineering Corps. They had difficulty at first spotting the sniper due to the hilly terrain on both sides of the road.

On Sunday night the security cabinet approved an operation recommended by the IDF to put constant military pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terrorist groups.

The meeting lasted for more than three hours and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer reportedly argued over how far to go in punishing PA Chairman Yasser Arafat for the attacks.

Sharon and Ben-Eliezer had argued already Saturday night about whether to allow Arafat to leave Ramallah, as Ben- Eliezer requested, or whether the tanks should return to surround Arafat's office, as Sharon wanted.

Sharon said at the cabinet meeting earlier in the day that additional pressure is needed on Arafat, calling the Palestinian Authority an "empire of lies." Ben-Eliezer agreed that the Fatah and Tanzim organizations, which are part of the PA, have been responsible for almost all of the recent deadly attacks.

Ben-Eliezer told ministers that the attacks of the past few days occurred despite Israel's efforts to bring about calm and the assurances of senior PA officials at security meetings that they would try to do likewise. But Ben-Eliezer said larger attacks were averted in Haifa and elsewhere.

Shin-Bet chief Avi Dichter said there is no truth to reports of a Palestinian decision to target only settlers and soldiers. He said Arafat is disconnected from reality, and he does not consider his current situation as bad as those around him believe it is. He joined Sharon and Ben-Eliezer in blaming Arafat for the upsurge in violence.

Sharon rejected charges from the Left that the Jenin and Balata operations helped bring about the attacks, saying the charges are politically motivated. Cabinet secretary Gideon Sa'ar said the sheer quantity of weapons confiscated, arrests made, and weapons factories destroyed proved the necessity of the operation.

Ministers from the Right and protesters outside both the cabinet and security cabinet meetings called on the government to give the IDF a free hand in other Palestinian areas and topple the PA.

Construction and Housing Minister Natan Sharansky (Yisrael Ba'aliya) dismissed European claims of moral equivalence between the IDF's actions in the refugee camps and the attacks on Israeli civilians. "We entered Balata to destroy a Katyusha factory," Sharansky said. "Our enemies try to kill as many children as possible."


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