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THIS WEEK 5.8.05

Wall-To-Wall Israeli Condemnation Of Israeli Terrorist Who Shot Dead Four Israeli Arabs In Town Of Shfaram

Maariv: 'Prime Minister Sharon Sleeps With Loaded Revolver Under His Pillow'

Gaza Settlers Still Defiant, Less Than Two Weeks Before Start of Israel's Unilateral Withdrawal

the victims - Michel Bahous, Nadir Hayak, sisters Hazar and Dina Turki

The latest confrontation between opponents to the Gaza withdrawal and Israeli troops and policemen has ended in another stalemate. But as the two sides were facing off near the Gaza Strip, an armed IDF soldier who had gone AWOL (absent without leave), boards a bus from Haifa and opens fire when the vehicle passes through the Arab town of Shfaram. The Israeli terrorist murders four Arabs, two women and two men, and wounds many others; some were in serious condition. The angry Arab crowd attacked the Israeli killer lynching him on the spot. An Israeli police officer says he had first handcuffed the soldier but the mob stormed into the bus and beat the attacker to death. It took massive Israeli reinforcements to extricate the bus with the killer's body inside. Nine Israeli policemen were injured in the fracas. The terrorist was identified as Private Eden Natan-Zada who went AWOL after telling his family he could not serve in an army that expelled Jews from their homes. Israeli leaders, from President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on down, categorically condemned the attack. IDF Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz has ordered a separate military investigation into why the AWOL soldier was not arrested weeks ago and after he had taken up residence in the settlement of Tapuach on the West Bank. Near the Gaza Strip, thousands of Israeli soldiers and policemen again barred withdrawal opponents from linking up with the Jewish settlements. Several hundred protesters did manage to break through the strong security cordons.

'Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now sleeps with a loaded revolver under his pillow'. Maariv newspaper says Sharon is not taking any chances. But first to AWOL Private Natan Zada, who shot dead four people in the Arab-Druze town of Shfaram, fit the intelligence profile of the main Jewish terror threat. A lone killer acting on his own as did Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. This time, the assassin who went AWOL in protest against the upcoming Gaza withdrawal, chose Arab victims perhaps with the hope of creating a massive Arab response that could torpedo the pullout. Prime Minister Sharon's officials have made clear the disengagement will be implemented as planned. At the same time, there is a danger that more Jewish attacks could trigger a wave of violence with unforeseeable consequences.

Question: Why was the armed AWOL soldier not arrested by the military police? His mother reportedly warned the IDF that her son was living in the settlement of Tapuach and had adopted the extreme views of Kahanists residing there. The IDF says it searched for the soldier in Tapuach but failed to find him.

Question: Why did the killer choose to start shooting inside the mixed Arab-Druze town of Shfaram? Israeli Druze citizens serve in IDF combat units and scores have been killed on duty, there is also a Druze General serving on the IDF general staff. During the violence in the bus, some eyewitnesses said the soldier was surprised when he was told he was in a Druze-Arab town.

Question: Will the Shabak Security Service start making administrative arrests of right-wing suspects who might carry out terror attacks in an attempt to halt the withdrawal? Apparently, yes. In the past, the Shabak has warned it has intelligence on Israeli Jews who might try to assassinate Ariel Sharon for example. However, the security service felt that it did not have enough evidence that would stand up in court. This attitude will likely change very quickly. As for the Prime Minister, he may be the most - protected international leader in the world. In public appearances, he is enveloped by a phalanx of Shabak bodyguards with other agents standing guard nearby. In any case, the Maariv newspaper reports that Ariel Sharon now sleeps with a loaded revolver under his pillow.

David Essing

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