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'Not extreme.' Teitel
Photo courtesy of Israel Police
Relatives: Teitel wouldn't destroy his family's life
Friends, relatives describe Shvut Rachel resident who admitted to killing Palestinians and placing bomb outside Professor Sternhell's home as being reserved, moderate, but say he was deeply affected by injury of brother-in-law in terror attack

"It's simply inconceivable that this nice man, who was never involved in any violence, would carry out such acts," said a relative of Yaakov Teitel, who is suspected of committing a string of hate crimes, including murdering two Arabs. 

 

Teitel, who was born in the US in 1975, made aliyah with his parents seven years ago. His father, a retired dentist, and his mother reside in the haredi community of Beitar Illit in the West Bank.

 

Teitel, who believes in the Jews' right to settle in all of the Land of Israel, settled in Shvut Rachel, also located in the West Bank.

 

In Shvut Rachel Teitel met Rivka, his future wife, for the first time. The two soon moved into a caravan together.

 

The couple's wedding, which took place in Jerusalem six years ago, was attended by hundreds of Rivka and Yaakov's relatives from Britain and the US. A year later their eldest daughter was born

 

"Yaakov is a supportive husband and a good father," an acquaintance said. "He takes care of his children and helps his wife out as much as possible. I've never heard him raise his voice or shout. He is a very quite and reserved man."

 

In the US, Teitel worked as a computer programmer, and, according to family members, after arriving in Israel he landed a job as a computer technician. Rivka, a dance teacher, gave lessons in Jerusalem, and the couple also received financial support from their parents.

 

The couple, like the rest of their family, staunchly opposed the evacuation of Gush Katif, which was carried out as part of the IDF's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Both Rivka and Yaakov carry a firearm.

 

Nine months ago Teitel's brother-in-law, Avitan, was seriously injured in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar, not far from Ramallah.

 

"Yaakov was deeply affected by (Avitan's) injury, as we all were," Rivka's sister said. "We are all aware of the risks (of living in a settlement), but this was the first time terror struck so close to home – suddenly we were terror victims."

 

Another relative said after learning of Teitel's arrest, "It's hard to believe he would have done anything that would hurt his wife Rivka. He is not an extreme person. You'd have to be insane to carry out the acts that are attributed to him.

 

"It's simply unfathomable that someone with four children, a computer genius, would do this and destroy his family's life, as well as his own," said the relative.

 

So far, Teitel has confessed to carrying out the following:

 

• The 1997 murder of an east Jerusalem taxi driver

 

• The 1997 murders of a Palestinian shepherd south of Mount Hebron

 

• Placing an explosive device in the Ramallah-adjacent settlement of Eli in 2006 – the device was found and disarmed safely

 

• Placing an explosive device near a Beit Shemesh monetary in 2007, which resulted in one Palestinian injured

 

• A 2007 explosion which took place in the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem – a police cruiser was severely damaged, but no injuries were reported

 

• Hurling explosives at a police car in June 2007 – No injuries or damage were reported

 

• Sending a parcel bomb to a messianic family residing in Ariel, which resulted in a 15-year-old boy suffering severe injuries

 

• Placing a pipe bomb near Prof. Zeev Sternhell's Jerusalem home in September of 2008 – Sternhell was lightly wounded.

 

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