Police are pushing ahead with the investigation into the explosion that wounded a 15-year-old youth in Ariel on Thursday. The explosive device is believed to have been concealed in a gift basket similar to those traditionally exchanged during the Purim holiday. The youth, who belongs to a family of Messianic Jews, is still hospitalized in serious condition at the Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikvah and underwent major surgery well into the early hours of Friday morning. Doctors were forced to sever one of his limbs and warn his eyesight is still in danger.
The Messianic Jewish community has voiced its outrage after initial reports linked the cause of the attack to the youth's religious affiliation. Some are now saying that the community has long since been subjected to harassment by religious Jews.
The explosion occurred around 2:30 pm on Thursday and Magen David Adom medics as well as police officers were immediately dispatched to the scene. Yarkon Area MDA medic, Nir Katua, said that the teen sustained severe neck injuries.
Chief Superintendent Mark Amiel reported that the police department “considers this case a criminal investigation and is examining all possible leads in this matter, including the suspected involvement of a cult.”
"All Messianic Jewish communities are still in shock and pain over the incident," Roni, a family friend, said. "The feeling is really difficult right now. The most important thing is that the youth come out of the operating room and the second thing is that we hope that they will catch the person who did this and condemn the phenomenon."
Roni, also a member of the sect, accompanied the injured teen to the hospital. "Messianic Jews suffer a lot of harassment and from other types of violence – burning down meeting places, pestering (us) at home, the publishing of announcements with featuring our pictures and more."
Roni also said that the primary danger threatening the members of the community came from extremist religious organizations – Muslim and Jewish. "There is always a danger from the religious perspective but the question is: Where does it come from?
"We would really like to believe that it doesn't come from Judaism. Every Messianic Jew is a target for radical Jews and in the past Messianic Jewish synagogues have even been burned down in Israel.
Caleb Meyers, the representative of the messianic Jewish community in Israel, explains that: "There is a campaign of harassment against the Messianic Jewish community by radical religious organizations that are trying to create dehumanization – especially in religious newspapers."
Meyers explains that the messianic community, which numbers about 15,000 people in Israel, "sees itself as a legitimate branch of Judaism. The central belief is that the messianic branch is influenced by the Old Testament as well as the New. It's a bridge between the Jewish and Christian worlds and harassment comes from this because it threatens the worldview of extremist religious bodies that want to uniquely define who is a Jew."
According to Meyers, "the teen that was hit was the youngest in a family of six brothers who all served in elite units in the IDF. The vast majority of messianic Jews are drafted into the military."