JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir met the angry cries of thousands of mourning settlers with impassioned rhetoric at the funeral Thursday of a 15-year-old Jewish girl stoned to death by Arabs in a violent encounter the day before.
"God will avenge her blood," vowed Shamir, echoing settlers from Eilon Moreh, who cried "revenge" and "expulsions" during the eulogy. "The blood of the whole nation is boiling."
Meanwhile, Israeli troops searching for suspects in the hills around Beita, the village where Tirza Porat was killed, shot and killed an Arab suspect. According to an army spokesperson, the suspect was shot after refusing repeated warnings to stop, and later died of his wounds.
Troops also arrested 15 residents of Beita and destroyed the houses of at least four people suspected of inciting the attack on the group of 16 Jewish teen-agers, who were hiking on a Passover holiday outing.
The village, near Nablus, remained under curfew Thursday.
In Washington, the State Department condemned Wednesday’s incident, which also left two Arabs dead, shot by adults escorting the hikers.
"This tragedy underscores the urgent need for Palestinians and Israelis to pull back from confrontation, shun violence and look to the peace process to resolve differences," department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said.
"Acts of violence serve no one’s interests and are bound to result in more tragedy."
Mourners from Eilon Moreh traveled to the funeral in a thousand-car procession, driving through Nablus under heavy security.
‘MURDERERS WILL ACHIEVE NOTHING’
They were met by an angry Shamir, who assured them that his resolve to hold on to the West Bank was not weakened by the first death of a Jewish civilian in the unrest that began four months ago.
"Every murderous deed unites the people of Israel and strengthens us and ties us to the land," said Shamir.
"These rioters, these murderers will achieve nothing," he added. "They lead their people to tragedies, to disaster."
Mourners responded with calls that Shamir dismiss Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Gen. Dan Shomron, the army chief of staff.
A leader of the settlers, Benny Katzover, said at the funeral, "The children of Israel must be free and safe to hike in any part of the Land of Israel." His remarks were possibly addressed at some Israeli critics who called the teen-agers’ hike an act of provocation in an already tense area.
Katzover spent the previous night with dozens of other armed settlers at an encampment near the entrance to Beita. They vowed to build a new settlement on the site as a memorial to the dead girl.
By midday Thursday, the army continued to hold some 300 villagers for questioning. Sources are expecting the army to announce stiff punishments for anyone harboring the fugitives suspected of inciting or taking part in Wednesday’s incident.
It was also announced Thursday that troops in another village near Nablus had destroyed the house of the leader of a guerrilla gang responsible for five bomb incidents over the past year.
The West Bank gang was linked to the Al Fatah wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, an army spokesperson said.
And in Hebron, deposed Mayor Mustapha Natshe said men driving cars with Israeli license plates entered the garage of his home and set fire to his car.