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West Bank Murder of Ex-refusenik Boosts Fears of New Arab Violence

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The murder of a one-time Soviet Jewish refusenik in the West Bank late last week has enraged Jewish settlers and heightened fears that Palestinians are again stepping up terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.

The murder last Thursday night triggered protests by settlers, who sought permission by the government to establish a new settlement at the site of the killing but were allowed only to hold memorial services there.

Mordechai Lipkin, 39, was ambushed by terrorists near Bethlehem as he was returning home to the settlement of Tekoa after dropping off his father-in-law, Binyamin, at the nearby settlement of Alon Shvut.

Lipkin was struck dead by bullets before he could even manage to pull his pistol out of the glove compartment of his car.

Lipkin, a father of four, immigrated to Israel from Moscow four years ago, after years of being a Zionist activist in the former Soviet Union. After four years of agitating as a refusenik, the Soviets finally gave him an exit visa.

In Israel, he was a successful painter and worked at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

His wife, Ilana, was summoned Sunday from Russia, where she had traveled last week as an emissary on behalf of immigration to Israel.

Lipkin’s parents, who still live in Moscow, reportedly heard about their son’s death last Friday on Israel Radio’s Russian-language newscast.

The murder infuriated the settlers, who have enjoyed relative quiet for the past few months, largely due to the army’s move in late March to seal off the administered territories from Israel proper.

After being denied permission to establish a new settlement on the site of the murder, settlers were allowed to set up a “memorial guard” for the seven days of mourning, or shiva.

With the army stepping up its pursuit of terrorist squads in most parts of the administered territories, the attack seemed to signal a strategy of the gunmen to avoid the major areas of confrontation and stage ambushes in more remote areas.

On Sunday, security forces were searching for three terrorists who reportedly tried to kidnap an Israeli, Yisraeli Suleimani of Moshav Ahituv, on the Sharon Plain.

Suleimani told police that three Arabs took over his car and, threatening him with pistols and knives, forced him to drive to the West Bank Arab town of Tulkarm. Suleimani told police his car turned over near the village of A-Til, and he managed to escape.

But police said they were not sure Suleimani’s story was reliable.

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