Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jewish Settler Murders 4 in the West Bank

Asher Weissgan, 38, an Israeli Jewish settler from the West Bank town of Shvut Rahel murdered four Palestinians that he worked with and wounded two others near the major settlement of Shiloh. Weissgan was overpowered by a security guard and then arrested by the Israeli police. He declined to say why he opened fire on the group of Palestinians, but did deny that his actions were connected with the ongoing Gaza withdrawal.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon quickly condemned Weissgan's actions, calling them an "exceptionally grave Jewish act of terror." Representatives from the settlements of Shiloh and Shvut Rahel also condemned the murders. Amihai Braverman, head of the Shiloh Council, said, "This is a grotesque act. We want good neighborly relations."

Despite the settlers' public condemnation, the senior leadership of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it was too weak and called on settler rabbis to issue a stronger condemnation. According to IDF officers quoted in Ha'aretz, "It is time for the settler leadership to assume responsibility. This is the second time in two weeks that a settler from the area has murdered innocent people."

The Palestinian militant group HAMAS said that it would consider retaliating for Weissgan's terror attack. Currently, HAMAS has agreed to abide by a self-imposed ceasefire, however Sami Abu Zohari, a HAMAS spokesman in the Gaza Strip said that his group would avenge the deaths in the West Bank. However, Shaykh Hassan Yusef, a senior HAMAS leader in the West Bank, said: "We are in favor of quiet and continue to be committed to it but will not permit it to be unilateral."

Weissgan's victims have been identified as Muhammad Mansour, 48; Bassam Tauase, 30; Halil Salah, 42; and Osama Moussa Tawafsha, 33.

For more information on today's Jewish terrorist attack, see:

Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, IDF soldiers and Israeli police continued to forcibly remove radical Jewish settlers and their supporters who refused to leave voluntarily. In the settlement of Kfar Darom, at least 100 settlers barricaded themselves in a synagogue and had to be dragged out. These settlers, among the most radical in Israel, have vowed to resist being removed and have claimed that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews and no part of it can be sacrificed, even for peace.

For more information about the continuing Gaza withdrawal, see:

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