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Archive for Friday, August 5, 2005

Jewish extremist opens fire inside Israeli bus, killing four Arabs

August 5, 2005

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— A 19-year-old Israeli soldier opened fire inside a bus Thursday, killing four Israeli Arabs in the deadliest attack on Arabs in Israel by a Jewish extremist since 1990. An angry crowd then killed the gunman.

Thirteen people, including bus passengers and two policemen, were wounded in the shooting, which appeared linked to tensions over the upcoming Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

After the attack, the bruised and bloodied body of the gunman lay on the floor of the bus surrounded by stones - raising the possibility he had been stoned to death.

The military identified the dead soldier as Pvt. Eden Natan-Zada, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Tapuah in the West Bank. Natan-Zada's father, Yitzhak, told The Associated Press his son ran away from his army unit several weeks ago after being told he would have to participate in the Gaza pullout.

Israel Radio said the gunman was bludgeoned to death by the crowd. After the attack, the gunman's body lay on the floor of the bus, and police had covered his head with a black plastic bag. His shirtless upper torso was heavily bruised.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced the shooting as "a despicable act by a bloodthirsty terrorist." Settler leaders also condemned the attack.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to prevent Jewish settlers from carrying weapons "because they (the settlers) are dangerous to the security and peace." Many settlers carry arms, which they say they need to protect themselves.

Security officials have been warning for months that Jewish militants, desperate to sabotage Israel's pullout, might attack Arabs to distract Israeli forces. The police commissioner, Moshe Karadi, warned the shooting could trigger more violence.

Israel TV said Natan-Zada was a deserter from his army unit who grew up in the Israeli city of Rishon Letzion and moved to the settlement recently.

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