The Threat of Terrorism by Jewish Anti-Disengagement Extremists
Posted: August 18, 2005
In reaction to the Gaza disengagement, Jewish extremists have made threats on the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and high Israeli government officials, have attacked Palestinians and have planned terrorist attacks on the Temple Mount. While terror attacks by Jewish extremists have been rare in Israel’s history, when they have occurred they have drawn worldwide attention and have significantly changed the political atmosphere in Israel.
[Note: The extremists discussed here are a fringe group, and should not be confused with the larger numbers of mainstream, law-abiding Israelis who disagree with and even protest against their government’s decision to withdraw from Gaza.]
The murder of four Israeli Arabs in Shfaram by Eden Natan-Zada, a recent initiate into the outlawed Kach group in Tapuach, underscores the severe threat posed by Jewish terrorists during the disengagement. The majority of Jewish terrorist threats originate within the Kahane Movement, made up of several related groups that adhere to the racist anti-Arab Jewish nationalist ideology of Rabbi Meir Kahane. On August 9, the IDF announced that over fifty IDF deserters with weapons were security threats who could stage terrorist attacks like Natan-Zada.
Jewish terrorists have long threatened violence to protest the Gaza Strip pullout. Late last year, a Kach spokesperson said there were "no more red lines” proscribing any actions necessary to “prevent the expulsion of Jews from their land.” Presently, former members of the Kach Party and outlawed Kahane Chai are collaborating with each other in protesting the Gaza pullout in any way they can. These terrorist organizations are joined by several smaller Jewish extremist groups who have splintered off from the Kahane movement such as Revava, the Jewish Front, and G’dud Haivri (The Jewish Legion). The racist anti-Arab message of these groups has led to violence perpetrated by the settler ‘hilltop youth,’ such as the attempted lynching of a Palestinian by Shimshon Citrin, who, after beating a Palestinian into unconsciousness, threw rocks at his head this July.
There are also much graver threats. Shin Bet and Israeli army intelligence have also been warning of threats against the life of PM Sharon, attacks on the Temple Mount to destroy Muslim holy sites, and open violence by settlers and Kahane activists against IDF soldiers evacuating the settlements.
Fears that extremists might resort to violence against Prime Minister Sharon were heightened after Rabbi Avigdor Neventzal, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem rabbi, publicly suggested in June 2004 that ancient Jewish law might have permitted vigilante attacks against a Jewish leader who intended to cede control of Jewish land to non-Jews. Though Neventzal added that no rabbi would be justified in issuing such a ruling today, his comments were reminiscent of language employed by Jewish radicals shortly before the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Weeks after Neventzal’s comments, then-Shin Bet head Avi Dicther warned the Knesset Defense and Foreign services committee that well over 100 Jewish extremists “actively wish for the death of the prime minister.” Israel’s security minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, added that he believed Jewish extremists already were planning to kill Israeli officials.
Threats against Sharon’s life have escalated as the settlement evacuation has approached. Last fall, graffiti was found featuring slogans such as, “We assassinated Rabin, we will assassinate Sharon too.” Kach spokesperson Itamar Ben-Gvir was arrested in January 2005 for displaying a bumper sticker that read, “Sharon, Lily is waiting for you,” referring to Sharon’s deceased wife. Most recently, a group of extremist rabbis gathered to invoke a death curse against Sharon derived from ancient Jewish tradition called the pulsa denura. Rabbi Michael Ben-Horin, one of the rabbis, said that because Sharon was better protected “than Hitler or Stalin,” it was necessary to employ the curse to stop his disengagement plans.
The desire to dissuade Israel from disengaging from settlements has led Jewish extremists to make numerous threats against the Temple Mount’s Muslim holy sites. In May 2005, nine Jews were arrested for planning a missile and grenade attack on the Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosque. According to Israeli police, their purpose was to spark a war with the Arab world which would stop the disengagement and bring about the removal of all Arabs from Israel. Other scenarios prevented by Israeli police have included an attempt to crash an air drone packed with explosives on the Temple Mount, a manned suicide attack with a light aircraft during mass Muslim worship on the Mount, and an attempt by right-wing extremists to assassinate a prominent Temple Mount Muslim leader.
Israeli government officials and police have consistently and forcefully prevented terror cells from advancing this agenda, acknowledging that such an attack could spark a war between Israel and the Muslim world.