TEL AVIV (Jun. 19)
The Justice Ministry disclosed yesterday the identities of 22 suspected members of a Jewish terrorist underground presently on trial, confirming what has long been known to the media and others — that most of the men are closely connected with the leadership of the militant Gush Emunim on the West Bank, in some cases through family ties.
All of the accused, whose photographs were published for the first time today, have been indicted on a variety of charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to membership in a terrorist organization. They have been implicated specifically in the attack on the Islamic College in Hebron in July, 1983 in which three Arab students were killed and 33 wounded; the June, 1980 car bombing that maimed two West Bank Arab mayors; a plot to blow up Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem; and the attempted sabotage last April 27 of five Arab-owned buses in East Jerusalem.
Meir Indor, a spokesman for the Gush Emunim whose brother, Yossi, is still being sought by police as a suspect, told reporters yesterday that leading Israeli politicans and military figures had encouraged settlers “to take actions that a democratic state cannot do,” against West Bank Arabs. He said this was done “before and after” the attacks on the mayors.
Indor said he was speaking for the Prisoners Actions Committee, a Gush Emunim group providing legal aid and other assistance to the suspects. The Jerusalem Post claimed today that Indor was “closely associated with former Chief of Staff (Gen.) Rafael Eitan and Minister-Without-Portfolio Ariel Sharon,” the former Defense Minister.
Indor was quoted as saying he had been present at meetings with “military and political figures of the highest ranks” at which they encouraged Jewish settlers to “take action” against what Indor described as “the PLO in Judaea and Samaria.”
The alleged leader of the Jewish terrorist underground, described as the mastermind behind all acts of violence and planned acts against Arabs was identified as Moshe Livni, 37, who lives among a small group of militants in the old Jewish quarter of Hebron.
He moved there from Kiryat Arba, the all-Jewish township and Gush Emunim stronghold that overlooks Hebron. He is a graduate of the Haifa Technion, an electronics engineer by profession and commander of a reserve battalion of army engineers.
RELATIVES OF MILITANT RABBIS
Two of the suspects are related by marriage to militant rabbis in Kiryat Arba. Uzi Sharbaf, 24, is the son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, political and spiritual leader of the Gush Emunim. He is implicated in the Islamic College murders and the bus sabotage plot. Menachem Neuberger, 28, is the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliezer Waldman who heads a yeshiva where religious studies alternate with military exercises. Both Levinger and Waldman have been detained by police for questioning and later released. No charges have been filed against them.
Other suspects identified are Natan Nathanson, secretary general of the Gush Emunim, who is implicated in the attacks on the mayors; Zeev Friedman, former deputy chairman of the Kiryat Arba settlement council; Yehuda Ezion, a founder of Ofra settlement on the West Bank; Yeshua Ben Shusan, 34, an army captain; Yaacov Heiman, 46, an Air Force pilot from the Golan Heights; his brother, Ben-Zion Heiman, 48, and his son Boaz Heinman, 23, who is the youngest of the suspects; also Moshe Zar, 47, a land dealer and builder on the West Bank.
One of the suspects, Dan Be’er, 40, who lives in East Jerusalem is a French-born Jewish convert from Catholicism who settled in Israel 15 years ago and presently is director of a yeshiva in Kiryat Arba.
The State originally indicted 27 suspects. Three, who confessed to lesser charges in a plea bargaining process, were identified earlier. One is Noam Yinnon from the Golan Heights who was tried separately and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. Two others, Gilad Peli and Yosef Zuria, who confessed last week, are awaiting sentence. Two army officers, Maj. Shlomo Levytan and Capt. Aharon Gilla, have pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.
The trial of 22 suspects which began Sunday is expected to be recessed for three months by mutual agreement of the Prosecution and Defense. The court will decide shortly whether to release on bail those suspects not charged with actual murder.