JERUSALEM (Feb. 9)
Anger was t fever pitch among Jewish settlers in the West Bank Thursday as they buried Albert Jerassi, 38, who was burned to death in his pickup truck near Alfe-Menashe Wednesday evening.
And further tension gripped the territory as Palestinians marked the start of the 15th month since the uprising began on Dec. 9, 1987.
Police said that while Jerassi, an Egyptian-born father of three, was probably the victim of Arab terrorists, the evidence did not confirm his vehicle was attacked with a firebomb, and that they could not rule out an accident.
But that statement from police just further infuriated the settlers from Alfe-Menashe, where Jerassi lived, and elsewhere in territory.
Thousands of people at the state funeral, with which all victims of terrorism are honored, railed against the Israel Defense Force for its inadequate protection of Jews in the territories.
They demanded the resignation of Maj. Gen Amram Mitzna, commander of the central section, who came to the settlement to mourn the victim and urge restraint.
Some angry settlers called for reprisals. “Don’t deal with the army, take care of the Arabs,” they shouted.
Avner Shaki, a National Religious Party minister in the Cabinet, said at the funeral there was no shadow of doubt that Jerassi was the victim of a “savage murder.”
Two other residents of Alfe-Menashe, Ofra Moses and her son, Tal, died when their car was firebombed in 1987.
But police said Thursday that the typical signs of a firebomb attack were missing from Jerassi’s burnt-out truck.
They referred to the absence of glass fragments from the bottle containing inflammable fluid, the so-called Molotov cocktail.
Police acknowledged that a plastic container may have been used, which would have melted.
They said Jerassi’s truck was soaked with gasoline, suggesting a possible new mode of attack.
Inside Israel, inmates of the Megiddo military prison near Afula rioted for the second day and many went on hunger strikes.
They are protesting the killing of one prisoner and wounding of 14 others Wednesday when prison guards opened fire to quell a riot that broke out on visitors’ day.
Jerusalem police took the unusual step of sealing off a house in the Moslem quarter of the Old City.
It belongs to an Arab accused of throwing an explosive charge at the building in the Moslem quarter, where Minister of Industry and Trade Ariel Sharon bought an apartment in 1987.
The Israeli authorities do not as a rule seal off homes anywhere in Jerusalem, which is an integral part of Israel. That punishment is reserved for Arabs in the administered territories.
But this time. the authorities said, they wanted to send a “clear message” to the local population that attacks on Jewish targets in the Old City will not be tolerated.