Fears over fur­ther right-wing ter­ror

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY YAAKOV KATZ JERUSALEM

A WEEK af­ter Is­rael Prize lau­re­ate Pro­fes­sor Zeev Stern­hell was the tar­get of a bomb at­tack, fears are mount­ing that a new far-right Jewish un­der­ground cell has be­gun op­er­a­tions in the West Bank and is plan­ning more at­tacks against left-wing per­son­al­i­ties.

The group is sus­pected of car­ry­ing out a se­ries of re­cent bomb at­tacks, in­clud­ing against a Mes­sianic Jewish fam­ily in the set­tle­ment of Ariel in which a young boy was se­ri­ously wounded.

They are also sus­pected of assem­bling an ex­plo­sive de­vice to det­o­nate dur­ing last year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride pa­rade. The bomb was dis­cov­ered in the West Bank a week be­fore the pa­rade and de­stroyed by po­lice sap­pers.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bomb­ing is be­ing con­ducted jointly by po­lice and the Shin Bet se­cu­rity agency. As part of their in­quiries, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are comb­ing in­ter­net fo­rums fre- quented by right-wing ac­tivists, in search of clues.

Mr Stern­hell, a world-renowned his­to­rian, re­ceived Is­rael’s high­est award this year, draw­ing ire from right-wing groups which op­posed the pro­fes­sor’s left-wing and anti-set­tle­ment views. Last Thurs­day, a pipe bomb went off out­side the 73-year-old’s Jerusalem home. He was lightly in­jured and spent the night in a lo­cal hospi­tal.

“This was ob­vi­ously the work of the far right,” Mr Stern­hell said. “It could have been a lone lu­natic, an or­gan­i­sa­tion, a cell of three or a whole set­tle­ment which all de­cided to set the record straight with me.”

The at­tack is one of the worst cases of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence in Is­rael since Yi­gal Amir as­sas­si­nated Prime Min­is­ter Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Mr Stern­hell was born in Poland in 1935, fled the Holo­caust to France and im­mi­grated to Is­rael in 1951. An ex­pert on the emer­gence of fas­cism, he teaches at Jerusalem’s He­brew Uni­ver­sity.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found fly­ers near his home of­fer­ing an NIS 1.1m (£180,000) re­ward to any­one who kills a Peace Now ac­tivist. In re­sponse, po­lice beefed up se­cu­rity sur­round­ing Peace Now sec­re­tary-gen­eral Yariv Op­pen­heimer.

“There is an over­all rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion among set­tlers,” Mr Op­pen­heimer told the JC. “There are also Jewish ter­ror­ists and we fear that this is a new un­der­ground that plans to be­gin op­er­at­ing more fre­quently. We call on the gov­ern­ment to stop al­low­ing the set­tlers to do what they want, and this starts with build­ing at the il­le­gal out­posts.”

The at­tack against Mr Stern­hell was con­demned by politi­cians from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak said it had brought Is­rael back to a “dark time” and that the de­fence es­tab­lish­ment would do all it could to catch the cul­prits.

Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Avi Dichter said the bomb­ing was a “na­tion­al­is­tic ter­ror at­tack” that was aimed at killing and not just in­tim­i­dat­ing Stern­hell.

PHOTO: FLASH 90

De­fi­ant: Zeev Stern­hell talks to re­porters fol­low­ing the bomb at­tack

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