Israeli Murders Four in Gaza Pullout Protest, Then Lynched
A 19-year-old Israeli soldier murdered four Palestinian bus passengers in protest over the Gaza pullout. He was subsequently lynched by angry Arabs.
A teenage Israeli soldier shot dead four people in a blazing row over the country’s imminent withdrawal from Gaza before being lynched by furious residents of an Arab-Israeli town. The shooting, the first deadly incident connected to Israel’s controversial plan to uproot all troops and settlers from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, heightened fears about possible violence during the historic pullout.
The 19-year-old religiously observant Jew, dressed in army fatigues, unleashed a volley of fire inside a bus in the northern Galilee town of Shfaram in an argument over the pullout, police said. Four Israeli Arab passengers died in the hail of bullets. The gunman was lynched by a furious crowd as hundreds flocked to the blood-smeared bus in a Druze neighbourhood of Shfaram shortly after the attack, police and witnesses said. Among the victims were two students, the driver of bus 165, which served the route between Shfaram and the main northern city of Haifa, and a local Shfaram resident. Four other passengers were also injured, two of them seriously, public television said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon swiftly issued a statement in which he condemned the shooting as “a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens”. “This is an extremely serious incident and we have mobilised our forces to deal with any eventuality,” Dan Ronen, commander of the police’s northern division, said.
The Palestinian Authority urged the Israeli authorities to prevent similar attacks in the context of tensions over the Gaza pullout. “The Israeli government must collect the weapons of the settlers and take steps against the settler leaders because they endanger Palestinian civilians and the general Israeli system,” Samir Hileelah, secretary general of the Palestinian cabinet, told AFP.
The shooting came just hours after Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the pullout — less than two weeks before the withdrawal is due to begin.
Horrendous. Not much a government can do, though, to prevent something like this. There’s only so much background information available for screeing a young military recruit.