Angry Israelis took to the streets of the capital over the weekend in the wake of the latest fatal terrorist attack against a Jewish settler.
A crowd of 2,000 right-wing demonstrators blamed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for the murder of Ofra Felix, a 19-year-old Israeli woman from the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh.
Felix was killed last Friday when her car was shot at near Beit El, north of Jerusalem.
Felix’s brother-in-law, Amihai Remer, was wounded in the attack. But his two young daughters who were also traveling in the station wagon, escaped unharmed.
The assailants drove off, and have so far eluded capture.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which violently opposes the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, took responsibility for the attack. The group said the murder was in retaliation for last week’s killing of four Palestinian activists in the West Bank by the Israel Defense Force.
Felix’s death capped a week marked by ongoing tension and violence between the IDF and the Palestinians.
Among those who blamed Rabin for Felix’s murder was her father, Rabbi Menahem Felix, a founding member of Gush Emunim, the religious settlers’ movement.
He said the Rabin government’s peace policies had led to a deterioration of the security situation both for the settlers and other Israelis.
Demonstrators clashed with police outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem Saturday night.
Several hundred demonstrators staged a similar protest near Rabin’s private home in Ramat Aviv, near Tel Aviv. They called for Rabin’s resignation.
Thousands turned out Sunday for Felix’s funeral at Elon Moreh.
The shooting incident occurred a day after the IDF commander in charge of the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Ilan Biran, vowed to conduct an all-out war against terrorists operating in the West Bank.
Biran spoke in the wake of the Jan. 4 fatal shooting by an IDF undercover unit of four Palestinians in the West Bank village of Beit Likya, located near Ramallah. Israel Radio reported that the four Palestinians were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
According to Israeli security sources, the soldiers opened fire after gunmen fired on the squad, lightly wounding one soldier in the food.
According to the IDF, the undercover soldiers were stationed in a parked van in the village square. The four men approached in a car and one opened fire on the soldiers with a pistol. The soldiers then opened fire on the car with automatic weapons, killing all four.
But villagers from Beit Likya disputed that account, accusing the army of gunning down the four in cold blood.
Hundreds of Palestinians milled around the village center on Jan. 5, a day after the exchange of gunfire, repeating their accusation to local and foreign reporters.
Palestinians from the Ramallah area proclaimed a commercial strike to protest the killings.
The incident followed another violent encounter last week, the worst between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian police since self-rule began last May. The two sides exchanged gunfire on the Gaza-Israel border on Jan. 2. Three Palestinian police died in the firefight, for which both sides blamed the other.
Each side accused the other for firing first, but a joint Israeli-Palestinian inquiry found that the Palestinian police had indeed shot first.
But some Palestinian officials nonetheless continued to deny that the police opened fire on the Israelis. They suggested that members of an unknown group fired first at the IDF, thereby provoking the deadly gun battle with the Palestinian police.