JERUSALEM (May. 13)
The Gush Emunim has officially condemned the alleged Jewish terrorist underground currently under investigation for acts of violence against Arab civilians including the attempted sabotage of Arab-owned buses in East Jerusalem which was foiled by security forces late last month. A similar position was taken by the Golan Heights Regional Council.
But the investigation, now in its third week, has reportedly uncovered evidence that Jewish terrorist acts in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem have far deeper roots in the settlment movement then originally suspected.
Moreover, there seems to be a sharp division between a majority of the settlers whose official position coincides with that of the Gush Emunim and a not inconsiderable minority which justifies violence as the only means to counter Arab terrorism.
The Gush Emunim issued a statement last Thursday deploring attempts to harm Arabs. They insisted that the settlement of “Eretz Israel” should not be advanced by deporting Arabs or by attacks on Arab lives and property. The Gush said they opposed vigilantism and affirmed that the government has the sole responsibility to protect the security and welfare of the populace.
GUSH LEADER ASSAILS THE GOVERNMENT
Nevertheless, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the Gush Emunim leader in Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, assailed the government last week for not taking effective action to prevent Arab terrorism. He claimed that alleged Jewish terrorism was a response to the ineptness of the government. Leving was summoned to Jerusalem police headquarters last Thursday for further questioning. He had been called in once before and this time there were reports that he had been arrested.
He was questioned for seven hours. Yediot Achronot reported that a top political figure had authorized the further interrogation about the alleged Jewish underground.
PORAT: MOVEMENT WILL PURGE VIGILANTES
One of the founders of the Gush Emunim, Hannan Porat, said on a television interview Thursday night that the Gush would undertake “an educational and information campaign” within and outside the movement and would” purge those who would take the law into their own hands.”
He sought to distance the Gush Emunim from what he implied was an extremist fringe. “Every great idea, such as the settlement movement inevitably draws to its margins those who deviate from the ideal,” he said.
Porat insisted that the settlement movement was solidly united. But there is growing evidence that this is not the case. Science Minister Yuval Neeman of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya Party created a furor in Israel last week when he claimed there were “some positive aspects” to the car bomb attacks that crippled two West Bank Arab mayors in June, 1980.
Residents of Kiryat Arba, where Levinger has been the acknowledged leader, drew up a petition critical of Porat’s remarks. It described the 25 suspects being held in custody in connection with the bus sobotage attempt as “persons with a good record in the settlement movement who organized to avenge the murders of Jews by Arab terrorists.”
The petition claimed that those persons performed “deeds that the government could not or would not do but which are the only answer to terror.” The detainees should not be called an “underground” because they did not join forces to act against the government, the petition said.
LONG-STANDING CONSPIRACY REPORTED
Meanwhile, the investigation of the suspects remained under a news blackout. Media reports have linked them to acts of violence against Arabs or attempted acts long before the bus sabotage attempt. There were reports last Friday of a long-standing conspiracy to deliberately worsen relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
According to those reports, its purpose is not only to take reprisals for Arab terrorists acts but to frighten Arabs to leave Israel and the occupied territories. One theory has it that some of the Jewish terrorists believe the departure of the Arabs would hasten the coming of the Messiah.
Israeli media reported Friday that the Jewish underground had two “projects” underway. One was to blow up the El Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, two of the holiest shrines of Islam on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem.
There was no official confirmation of any of these allegations and the authorities are making every effort to keep the investigation confidential until such time as formal indictments are filed against the suspects. There is no indication when this may be, although reports last week indicated the investigation was nearing the end.
Meanwhile, the Gush Emunim announced that legal aid would be extended to the suspects, but on an individual basis rather than as a body. The Golan Heights Regional Council also announced it would provide legal aid to the suspects and financial help for their families. Six residents of the Golan Heights are said to be among the suspects. The majority are reportedly residents of the West Bank.