Israeli policies blamed for bus slayings

Arab leaders have slammed the Israeli government for failing to arrest an ultranationalist Jewish army deserter before he killed four civilians from a northern Arab town.

    Israeli soldier, Private Edan Nathan-Zaada, killed four Arabs

    But they kept their outrage in check, overwhelmingly calling for a non-violent response to the slayings on Thursday, which was linked to Israel's impending evacuation of the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements.

    In the wake of the killings, which was described as "Jewish terrorism" by Israeli police, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Saturday that he would consider holding Jewish extremists without charge or trial.

    Israel uses the procedure, known as administrative detention, against Palestinians, but rarely against Jews, though other Israeli officials have mooted using it in connection with the withdrawal-related violence.

    Administrative detention literally means detention without trial for an indefinite period.

    Israeli security forces have been on alert for months for pullout-related violence that could complicate the withdrawal.

    State's responsibility

    Israeli police described the killings
    as Jewish terrorism 

    For months, Israeli security has said that extremists might try to sabotage the mid-August pullout from Gaza and four small northern West Bank settlements by attacking Arabs to aggravate tensions and divert Israeli occupation forces.

    Mofaz acknowledged in an interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV that intelligence operations set up to deal with the withdrawal "didn't operate well" in the case of Thursday's killings.

    Hundreds of Arab leaders from across Israel met in Nazareth on Saturday to discuss how their angry and frustrated community should respond to the slayings.

    They agreed to hold a mass demonstration of Arabs from across the country, but did not set a date.

    Lawmaker Muhammad Barakeh, who attended the meeting, faulted the government for not anticipating the attack.

    Ticking bombs

    "Many leaders feel that there are ultranationalists wandering around, some 'ticking bombs'," Barakeh said.

    "Every day we listen to ministers and politicians who talk about 'transfer' [the forced removal of Arabs], who make racist laws against the Arab population of Israel. And then you find someone who translates this into violence"

    Muhammad Barakeh,
    Arab member of Israeli parliament quoted by the Guradian Unlimited

    "This man's name was known to the (secret police), and the army didn't let police know he had deserted. ... He had a uniform and a gun, and was wandering free. Why?


    Many Arab leaders think he is just one of many ultranationalist Jewish ticking bombs out there," Barakeh said.

    In an article published by Britain's Guardian newspaper, Barakeh, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament who lives in Shfaram, said the Isareli soldier, Private Edan Nathan-Zaada, chose to murder Arabs because the state has long identified them as the "enemy within", in order to justify building Jewish settlements.

    "It's not a lone crime. It's the fruit of the official policy against the Arab population," he told the Guradian.


    "Every day we listen to ministers and politicians who talk about 'transfer' [the forced removal of Arabs], who make racist laws against the Arab population of Israel. And then you find someone who translates this into violence.

    "Every one of us expected this crime to happen. Every fascist in Israel thinks that if he kills more Arabs he can change the agenda of the state"

    Administrative detentions

    Arab leaders say many radical
    Jews are 'ticking bombs'  

    Mofaz told Channel 2 that "we will also consider something that I oppose but the Shin Bet (security service) recommends: We will consider administrative detentions... of all those the Shin Bet recommends."

    The Islamic movement in the 48 area had called for non-violent protests at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

    Barakeh said the Islamic Movement called on Muslims to go to Jerusalem "to defend Al Aqsa Mosque," Islam's third holiest Mosque.

    Al-Aqsa festival

    Speaking to Aljazeera from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 area, Kamal Khatib said, the "mass meeting of Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday is a "demonstration to say to the Israelis that they cannot do as they wish at the site and that the Palestinians in the 48 area fully support Palestinians in other areas, including Gaza and the West Bank".

    "This gathering, the Al-Aqsa festival at the Al-Aqsa Mosque also serves to remind our children of the importance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islam."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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