JERUSALEM (May. 21)
An atmosphere of barely restrained fury prevailed among Jewish settlers in the West Bank Thursday following the murder of a Jewish child from Elon Moreh settlement near Nablus.
The battered body of eight year-old Rami Hana was found in a cave at about 5 a.m. local time, 12 hours after he was last seen riding his bicycle Wednesday afternoon. His parents and neighbors had been searching all night. The boy’s head was smashed by a rock in the cave just outside the settlement perimeter. There were signs he had struggled with his assailant.
Maj. Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of the central sector who visited the scene, said there was no doubt the child was murdered but the motive remains unclear. Police sources said all possibilities were being investigated but at this point a terrorist act seemed most likely.
Enraged settlers have no doubt the murder was the work of terrorists. “The work of animals,” said Otniel Schneller, secretary general of the Council of Jewish Settlements, following an emergency meeting of heads of all West Bank settlements Thursday. He urged the authorities to adopt a tougher policy toward terrorists.
As soon as the body was discovered curfews were clamped on three neighboring Arab villages where security forces conducted house-to-house searches. A number of arrests were reported. Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron personally joined Gen. Mitzna to supervise the dragnet.
SETTLERS STUNNED BY THE TRAGEDY
Settlers in Elon Moreh, stunned by the tragedy, had difficulty containing their emotions. Otniel said the murder was the latest in a “chain of murders of Jews just because they are Jews.” Premier Yitzhak Shamir sent a message saying the most heinous of crimes will not remove the people of Israel from its land. He quoted a famous line from the poet Bialik: “Even the devil has not yet created the vengeance of a little child.”
But the settlers were not taking measures of their own, at least not before Rami Hana was buried late Thursday, in a small cemetery in the settlement of Karnei Shomron, near Nablus.
Thousands attended the funeral which passed through Nablus, stopping briefly at Josephs Tomb. Yosef Shapira of the National Religious Party, a Minister-Without-Portfolio, and a leader of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, delivered the eulogy on behalf of the government.
Shomron met with settlement leaders. Military sources said later there was a “basic understanding” between the settlers and the army to avoid provocations. There has been tension between the military and the settlers in the area recently since the army strictly limited the number of settlers who can visit Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus at any one time.
Meanwhile, Hosni Hassan A-Saleh, Chief of the Arab village of Azmouth which is under curfew, condemned the “barbaric murder” and urged “the severest punishment” for the killers when caught.