TEL AVIV (Aug. 22)
Gush Emunim settlers on the West Bank are seething over an article written by the former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, claiming that the settlements are a “psychological hothouse for the growth of Jewish terror, ” and that the settlers sometimes take the law into their own hands because they feel they have the Likud government’s support.
Avraham Ahituv, writing in Davar over the weekend, stated that there is “heavy suspicion” that settlers have been responsible for attacks on Arab mayors and on Arab students at the Islamic College in Hebron earlier this month. Four masked gunmen opened fire on a group of students at the college, killing three and wounding 33.
According to Ahituv, the nature of the Likud government’s West Bank settlement policy provides the settlers with a political rationale and cover to commit acts of terror, although the government itself may not be aware of what is going on or that it might inadvertently be fostering a terrorist mentality.
He said that the failure of the security services to apprehend those responsible for the assassination attempts against the West Bank Arab mayors three years ago was not due to political pressures hampering investigations but to the operational methods of the “Jewish terrorists” and to the unwillingness on the part of the settlers to cooperate with security services investigators. Ahituv pointed out that there has been no progress in identifying the gunmen in the college attack nor those responsible for the assassination attempts on the mayors.
A spokesman for the Gush Emunim said Ahituv’s remarks were “a danger to the nation’s security” and should be officially investigated. Elyakim Ha’etzni, leader of the Kiryat Arba settlement, charged that the fact that Ahituv’s article was published by Davar, a Labor Party-affiliated newspaper, proves that the former Shin Bet head is a “Mapainik” (Laborite). Ha’etzni also complained that the Shin Bet had failed to identify and apprehend members of Peace Now “who had perpetrated the pogrom at Efrat.” This was a reference to the daubings of anti-Gush Emunim slogans on the walls of houses in the West Bank settlement of Efrat during a recent Peace. Now rally against settlement in Arab areas.
The Jerusalem Post today quoted unnamed senior intelligence and security officials as confirming Ahituv’s statements.