Prominent Israeli historian Professor Ze'ev Sternhell was lightly wounded in the early hours of the morning on Thursday after a pipe bomb went off outside his front door on Shai Agnon St. in Jerusalem. The explosion occurred as Sternhell was locking the outer gate of his home at around 1:00 am, he sustained minor injuries to his legs and was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Hospital for treatment. Police were alerted to the scene.
The 73-year-old Sternhell is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
For some time Sternhell had been receiving threats over the telephone that were reported as being ideologically motivated. Police forensic teams are searching the area around the professor's home for evidence, believing the bombing to be tied to the threats. No suspects have been arrested thus far.
Professor Sternhell received the Israel Prize this year, in recognition of his work in the field of political science. "I criticize that which needs to be criticized, to tell the truth even when it is unpleasant. That to me is the definition of what a good researcher is," he said at the awards ceremony.
Police worried Peace Now a target
Fliers were found in the streets near Sternhell's home promising a reward of 1.1 million shekels to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now. 'The time has come for a halachic state in Judea and Samaria! The time has come for the Kingdom of Judea!' called the fliers.
Police have assigned Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer with security detail following the attack on Professor Ze'ev Sternhell.
"The extremist Right poses an existential danger to Israeli democracy," Oppenheimer said early Thursday morning following the attack.
"Law enforcement authorities must abandon their lenient policy when it comes to law-breakers from within the settler community and their supports before we see another politically-motivated murder in Israel," said Oppenheimer. "He who doesn't enforce the law on violent settlers in the territories will find himself with a Jewish terror organization in the heart of Israel."
'We won't allow this'
Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the attack at Thursday's Labor meeting. "We are returning to the sinister phenomenon of using bombs against people, in this case against a very capable man who has never been afraid to voice his opinion, because his position, which is the peace camp's position, is that of a liberal voice, a democratic voice, a sane voice amidst the incitement," he said.
"We will not allow anyone, from any dank corner of Israeli society, to persecute anyone else," said Barak.
Meretz chairman, MK Haim Oron, wished Sternhell a speedy recovery and added: "This thuggish, dangerous act is the result of closing our eyes to the violence against soldiers, police officers and all those who disagree with the thugs of the extremist Right."
Oron called on Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter to spare no effort in hunting down the perpetrators. "Don't talk to us about fringe groups, this is a growing phenomenon in the Right and the state must take care of it," said Oron.
"The attempt to hurt Professor Sternhell is the result of the lenient attitude and weakness of the law enforcement agencies towards the extremist Right," charged MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) following the attack.
The National Jewish Front organization declined to criticize the attack. "We're not connected to the incident and do not operate that way, but having said that, we will not condemn it. Sternhell legitimized attacks against settlers," the group said.
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said the persons behind the attack were dangerous criminals that should be tried for their actions, but also added: "This attempt to take advantage of difficult events to polarize the public is extremely dangerous. Those who automatically blame the extreme Right are stirring up discord."