Prof. Ze'ev Strenhell
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Ami Ortiz
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Sternhell: Teitel's arrest marks important day for democracy

Victims of alleged Jewish terrorist welcome arrest, call on authorities to prosecute him to full extent of the law. Yesha Council head: Everyone must condemn these acts just as harshly as we do

Leftist figure and Hebrew University professor Ze'ev Sternhell welcomed on Sunday the arrest of the man behind his assault last September.


Strenhell suffered mild injuries in late 2008 when a pipe bomb exploded in the walkway to his Jerusalem home.


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Earlier, authorities cleared for publication that Yaakov Teitel, 35, of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, was arrested in early October for allegedly carrying out a series of domestic acts of terror over the past few years, including the attack on Sternhell.


Teitel is suspected of attempted murder, aggravated assault, arms offenses and racial incitement.


"I'm glad to learn that the great efforts by the police and Shin Bet paid off," said the Israel Prize laureate. "This is an important day for Israeli democracy. The attempt to hurt someone simply due to his political views was a dangerous step down the slippery slope of a citizen's right to affect politics and society in Israel.


"Israeli society as a whole stood to pay a price had he not been arrested and I hope authorities will deal with this terrorist as it does any other terrorist, Jewish or Arab."


Members of the Ortiz family, whose son was injured by a parcel bomb Teitel reportedly confessed to sending the messianic family, were also relieved by the arrest, although according to Leah Ortiz, the family "was shocked to learn he was a settler, just like us."


Ami Ortiz, who was 15 when he suffered the debilitating injuries has undergone a dozen operations so far and is facing four more. "Once we learned he was Jewish… there's a great sense of betrayal. I'm relieved to know he's in jail. I don't know who he is and what his beliefs are, but I think they are primitive and regrettable."


Right-wing figures were also quick to condemn the acts Teitel confessed to and is suspected of.


Binyamin Council Head Avi Roeh said that the acts attributed to Teitel were "grave, wrong and unthinkable both morally and legally… The suspect does not represent the majority. The people of Binyamin and Shvut Rachel are moral, law-abiding citizens who denounced such acts."


'Dark, dangerous world'

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan congratulated security forces for the arrest, saying the "every conscientious person in the country must condemn these acts just as harshly as we do.


"We must also condemn any lowly attempt to seek any political gain by holding an entire public responsible for acts it vehemently opposes."


The Binyamin Settlers' Council issued to the same effect: "We adamantly reject any attempt to use these unfortunate circumstances for political gain at the expense of the settlers. Even if there is someone who carried out these unspeakable acts, the settler community is still the most qualitative, ethical and moral community in Israel."


Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said breaking the Teitel case "uncovered a dark, deadly world, which has claimed lives and harmed others due to radical ideals.


"This was a broad, complex investigation by the Shin Bet and the police and it included Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria subdistrict teams as well as various professional teams in the National Headquarters.


"Apprehending this suspect and thwarting his activities are of the utmost importance when it comes to homeland security and maintaining public order and the rule of law," he said.


Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch commended law enforcement agencies, saying "this was an important case which proved once again that (police) tenacity will lead us to anyone who breaks the law."


Defense Minister Ehud Barak commented on the case, saying that "without generalizing, Israel as a society cannot allow fringe individuals dictate our national agenda." Barak welcomed the arrest, calling it "an important achievement in the fight for democracy."


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the Shin Bet and Israel Police for the operation and their "relentless action against anyone who chooses violence."


Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni commented as well, saying "there is no place is Israel for hate crime. We cannot excuse this case by saying this was an insane individual. It is the police's job to stop people like him and the judicial system's job to try them, but society plays an important role as well.


"Our fight is not all about borders… it is also about joint vision and values and there is no place in it for hate crimes."


Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka said that, "This terrorist grew up in the racist, fascist swamp of the Israeli occupation. Only by draining this swamp can we stop people like him… forgiveness of racial and fascist rhetoric only encourages people like Teitel and there are many others like him."


Efrat Weiss and Roni contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 11.01.09, 20:16
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