Israeli security forces are conducting searches of houses and offices, and rounding up Jewish residents in the hometown of an Israeli man who opened fire tonight on a bus and killed four Arabs, WND has learned.
Some anti-Gaza withdrawal activists say they fear the shooting might be used as a pretext to round up settlement leaders ahead of the Aug. 17 Gaza evacuation.
In an act Israeli police are calling a “Jewish terror attack,” Eden Natan Zada, 19, shot at Arab passengers on a public Israeli bus in the northern Arab town of Shfaram, killing at least four and wounding over 12 others, some seriously. Zada was also killed when he was assaulted by a mob of angry Arab bystanders and witnesses.
Zada, from the town of Kfar Tapuach in Samaria, was an Israeli Defense Forces soldier recently sentenced to jail time for refusing orders related to the upcoming evacuation of Jewish communities in Gaza and parts of Samaria. He went missing 77 days ago, still in possession of his army-issued gun.
Residents of Tapuach told WND about 100 Israeli policemen and agents of Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services are in their community rounding up suspected associates of Zada and conducting thorough searches of some residents’ properties.
“The agents and the police are going around rounding up people here and entering homes and offices and doing searches. They confiscated computers and books and other possessions,” Tapuach resident Ephraim Hacohen told WND.
Resident Ezra Goren said, “Officers are blocking the entrance to Tapuach. They are monitoring all traffic in and out – like they are waiting for certain people.”
Police sources told WND they suspect Zada did not act alone. They said one arrest in Tapuach has been made, but refused to release further details.
HaCohen said a 14-year-old friend of Zada was arrested.
Tapuach is well-known for its high-profile activist residents, most of whom are former members of the Kahane-Chai movement and its various off-shoots. Rabbi Meir Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, was founder of the Jewish Defense League. Kach and Kahane Chai, the Israeli branches of his organization, were outlawed in 1994 following statements in support of Baruch Goldstein, a Kach member who carried out a shooting attack against Arabs at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Several of Tapuach’s activist residents say they are now in undisclosed locations and gave interviews to WND through the Internet because they say cell phones are traceable. They say they fear police will use tonight’s shootings as a pretext to round up anti-Gaza withdrawal activists ahead of the planned Gaza evacuation.
Settlement leaders have been carrying out massive protests and street-blocking campaigns throughout the country in an attempt to stop the withdrawal.
“They’ve been waiting for an excuse to arrest people involved with the protests and the legitimate struggle to stop the Gaza evacuation,” one leader said. “Now they have their trigger.”
Yekutial Ben Yaacov, a former Kahane leader and founder of the Jewish Legion in Kfar Tapuach, echoed those comments: “The authorities will use this to arrest legitimate leaders. They look for any excuse to do that.”
Ben Yaacov, who is currently outside Tapuach, is not in hiding. He has been leading a campaign to conduct a national referendum regarding the Gaza withdrawal.
Ben Yaacov, friends with Zada, said tonight’s attack was triggered by the withdrawal.
“Tzeburi is the first casualty of the sadistic Gaza plan. He tried with all his heart and soul to convince the authorities not to draft him at this time so he wouldn’t have to play a role in the disengagement. Had he not been enlisted, had they not forced him to be scheduled to uproot Jews, there wouldn’t be any deaths,” Ben Yaacov said.
Benzi Lieberman, head of the Yesha Council, which organized many recent protests, said he is “shocked and severely criticizes the shooting incident in Shfaram that took the lives of innocent people.”