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Hebron Rabbi Facing 20 Years, As Trial for Killing Arab Begins

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Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the Gush Emunim militant who led the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank, finally went on trial in Jerusalem District Court Monday for killing an Arab and wounding another during a shooting spree in Hebron last September.

Levinger, 54, pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

His trial was to have opened in April, but it was postponed three times as a result of delaying tactics.

Levinger first said he couldn’t find a lawyer. Then the one he did find, Ya’acov Nehoshtan, challenged the Jerusalem court’s jurisdiction over the incident, which occurred in the West Bank. Later, he asked for more time to study the case.

On Monday, when Nehoshtan claimed the charge sheet was unclear, Judge Ezra Hadaya lost his temper and ordered the trial to begin immediately.

Levinger insists that Jews and Arabs can coexist peacefully in Israel and the territories, provided the Arabs recognize that the land belongs to Jews and they are here to stay.

He is accused of firing shots, first into the air and then toward the local marketplace, after his car was stoned near his home in the Jewish quarter of Hebron almost a year ago.

One of the bullets killed a 42-year-old Arab shoe vendor. Another Arab was wounded.

Levinger, who is free on bail, told reporters after leaving the courtroom that “they should try the real criminals,” whom he identified as “the leaders of the intifada.”

Before appearing in court, Levinger and six supporters marched to the East Jerusalem home of Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini, followed by a trail of reporters.

The demonstrators carried placards reading, “Terrorist to prison.”

Husseini, 49, is one of the most prominent leaders of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a two-state solution.

As Husseini emerged from his home, Levinger shouted, “You are here to kill Jews. You are the biggest terrorist in Israel.”

While the reporters scribbled their notes, Husseini replied, “Was it I who killed someone with a pistol?”

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