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Arrest of Jew for Terror Plots Sends Shock Waves Throughout Israel

March 5, 2004
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Just as Jews prepared to celebrate Purim, whose story culminates in the Jews’ slaying of their enemies, one Israeli Jew was quietly planning to slay the people he saw as his own enemies.

Eliran Golan, a 22-year-old from Haifa, is under arrest for a three-year-long bombing campaign against Israeli Arabs, including a bombing against a member of Knesset.

Only one person was hurt in nine attacks attributed to Golan, suggesting that he is inept with explosives. But police said Thursday that more than 30 homemade devices had been found in Golan’s room when he was arrested, suggesting that Golan had the makings of a major terrorist.

At his arraignment in Haifa District Court, Golan pleaded guilty to nine counts of politically motivated violence.

“He declares himself a member of the ideological far right, and made this clear during interrogation — that he was active against Arab targets, that he hated of Arabs,” a chief police investigator, Effi Paz, told Army Radio.

Golan’s father, Meir, a civilian who works for the Israel Defense Forces, also is under arrest on suspicion of knowing about the bombings and not telling authorities about them. He denies the charges.

The arrests were made public Thursday after a gag order was lifted, and they sent shock waves through a nation used to equating Jewish terrorism with fringe settler groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Last September, three Jewish settlers were jailed for 12 to 15 years for trying to bomb an Arab girls school in Jerusalem. Police and the Shin Bet still are searching for the perpetrators of drive-by shootings in the West Bank that killed at least eight Palestinians in the current intifada.

The fact that Golan was from Haifa, renowned as a haven of Jewish-Arab coexistence, made the arrest even more unsettling for some Israelis. According to media reports, Golan allegedly tried to bomb the homes of Jews who socialized with Arabs in the picturesque port city.

Issam Mahoul, the Arab lawmaker from the pro-Communist Hadash Party who survived unscathed a bomb attack on his car last year, said Golan’s arrest hardly puts him at ease.

“If truth be told, I am not yet calm,” he said. “I welcome the police efforts, but I think they have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg.”

“Jewish terrorism is alive and well,” he said.

Mahoul, a Haifa resident, said he has been under continuous guard since the attack. According to police, Golan had gathered information on at least four other Arab lawmakers.

Israel’s minister for internal security, Tzachi Hanegbi, cautioned against viewing Golan’s arrest as a sign of a new groundswell of Jewish terrorism.

“This is apparently a case of an individual fueled by hatred who took his life in his hands and devoted himself to a mission of hurting Arabs,” he said.

Israel’s daily Ma’ariv said the first break in the case came when someone, presumably Golan, sent a note to the newspaper’s Haifa office claiming responsibility for the bombing of a local mosque in the name of “The New Jewish Underground, Section One.”

Several West Bank settlers known as the Jewish Underground were jailed in the 1980s for a series of vigilante attacks on Palestinians.

Ha’aretz reported that an Arab woman injured in that attack is still fighting for the National Insurance Institute to recognize her welfare eligibility as a victim of terrorism.

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