Murder of Israeli Lawyer in Gaza Shakes Jews and Palestinians Alike

The brutal murder this week of an Israeli lawyer who was working with European officials to improve the lot of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has shaken both Jews and Arabs in the midst of a sensitive time politically.

Sunday’s killing of Ian Feinberg, 30, took place in a Gaza office just as the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks with Israel was deliberating whether or not to return to the negotiating table in Washington.

Israelis were particularly disturbed by the killing, since it broke an unwritten rule that non-partisan Israelis, such as lawyers and journalists, enjoy immunity from terrorist attacks.

The murder of Feinberg, who was doing work for a European Community-financed aid provider called Cooperation for Development, proved there are no limits in the bitter war between Jew and Arab and that virtually any means are being justified to achieve the end.

The Red Eagles, an armed cell affiliated with George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for the attack.

It posted notices on Gaza’s walls warning “every Zionist who enters the Gaza Strip or the West Bank will become a target for our weapons. We shall have no mercy for the Zionists, just as they do not have any mercy for our women and children.”

The killing prompted condemnations not only by Israelis, but also by Palestinian figures, including the heads of Cooperation for Development and Zakariya al-Agha, a member of the Palestinian negotiating delegation.

TRUCKLOADS OF FOOD REJECTED

Al-Agha told Israel Radio that no act of murder against an innocent person was justified.

Referring to current political developments, al-Agha said that if Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made further gestures toward the Palestinians, they would respond in kind.

On the other hand, Arab Knesset member Hashem Mahamid of the Hadash Communist Party triggered angry reactions from the political right when he declared that the bloodshed in the territories was a result of Israel’s continued “occupation.”

Mahamid visited Gaza on Monday with truckloads of food, clothes and medical equipment for the local population. Israeli troops seized the clothes and medicine, saying they would distribute it, but turned back the food.

Sunday’s attack occurred as Feinberg, a frequent visitor to the Gaza development agency, sat in the office of its director, Nibris Bseiso, after the two had lunched together.

Suddenly, two masked men entered the room with bayonet rifles and attacked Feinberg. As he was wrestling with his attackers, Bseiso pleaded for his life, but the attackers pushed her aside and would not listen.

Bseiso ran outside and summoned help, but when she returned to the room, she found the lawyer lying dead in a pool of blood. He was brutally beaten by ax blows and stabbed with rifle bayonets.

The slain lawyer was buried Monday at Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul cemetery, in a special section for victims of terror attacks.

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