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Alleged Members of Jewish Under Ground Fire Their Lawyers

May 15, 1985
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Alleged members of a Jewish terrorist underground on trial for a series of violent acts and conspiracies against Arab civilians in the West Bank, fired their lawyers yesterday because of an unfavorable ruling by the three judge panel hearing the case.

Judges Yaacov Bazak, Shmuel Finkelman and Zvi Cohen dismissed defense counsels’ motions to introduce evidence on the state of security of Jewish settlers in the West Bank prior to the alleged terrorist attacks. The defendants are charged with, among other offenses, car bombings that crippled two Arab mayors and conspiracy to blow up Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem.

The judges ruled that evidence with respect to the settlers’ security would be irrelevant because it could not justify the accused taking the law into their own hands. The defense lawyers were dismissed because their entire brief was built around the state of security for Jewish settlers in the administered territories. The No. I defendant, Menachem Livni, alleged ringleader of the underground, called the judges’ decision “unjust and immoral.”

During the court session Sunday, the No. 2 defendant, Yehuda Etzion, admitted he had “participated in chopping off the legs of murderers.” He was referring to the car bombing in June, 1980 that severely injured Mayor Bassam Shaka of Nablus who lost both of his legs.

According to Etzion that act was consonant with the aims of the nation of Israel in this generation of its rennaissance. He described the plot to destroy the shrines on the Temple Mount as a “cleansing” of a Jewish holy site.

Meanwhile, Inspector Meir Lavie of the Border Police was demoted and severely reprimanded for allowing a group of the trial defendants to stop off at a beach for a swim last week while they were being transported in his custody from a court session to their jail. Lavie, who was also fined, said he had acted “innocently.” The Minister of Police and the police chief have under consideration a recommendation that he be dismissed from the force.

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