Teitel at a previous court hearing
Photo: Yaron Brener
Prof. Sternhell. Lightly wounded
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

Teitel indicted for murder, attempted murder

Shvut Rachel settler dubbed 'Jewish terrorist' indicted for murdering two Palestinians, attempted murder of Prof. Zeev Sternhell, teen from Ariel, Palestinian from West Bank village. Indictment includes 14 offenses. 'God is proud of my actions,' Teitel says upon entering courtroom

Two cases of pre-meditated murder, three cases of attempted murder, carrying a weapon, manufacturing a weapon, and incitement to violence were the charges included in an indictment filed Thursday with the Jerusalem District Courtagainst against alleged Jewish terrorist Yaakov (Jack) Teitel.


Overall, the indictment included 14 charges against Teitel.


Teitel said upon arriving at the Jerusalem District Court, "It was a pleasure and honor to serve my God. God is proud of what I have done. I have no regrets."


Teitel, 37, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, was indicted for the murder of Palestinian taxi driver, Samir Balbisi, in June 1997, and the murder of a Palestinian shepherd just a few months later. He was also charged with laying an explosive device next to a Palestinian home near the West Bank settlement of Eli.


The indictment also claimed that he attempted to poison Palestinian residents of an isolated village near Eli. He was also indicted for attempting to murder the son of a Messianic family living in Ariel when he sent an explosive device disguised as a Purim gift to their home. In addition, he is charged with rigging a bomb next to Prof. Zeev Sternhell's home.


Prepared homemade explosives

According to the indictment, Teitel decided while still a resident of the United States to target Palestinians to avenge terrorist attacks against Israel. Teitel purchased a plane ticket to Israel under the pretext that he wished to examine the possibility of immigrating to Israel to live here permanently.


He successfully smuggled a gun into Israel by disassembling it and placing it in a video player. In June 1997, he arrived at Nablus Gate in Jerusalem and got into the taxi of Samir Balbisi. After confirming that the driver was Arab, he shot and killed Balbisi in the head at point blank.


Months later, he planned to murder a Palestinian shepherd near Sussia. At some point, Teitel noticed sheep grazing near the side of the road. He stopped his car, got out of the car with a gun in his bag assuming that the shepherd was close by. Teitel quickly identified that shepherds were children and decided not to harm them.


A few minutes later, he noticed Issa Jabrin walking north to the village of Carmel. Teitel asked Issa for directions to Jerusalem. The Palestinians, who did not understand, bent down to the car window in order to hear him. Teitel then fired two shots from short range that fatally hit Issa in the chest. A few days later, Teitel returned to the US.


Teitel returned to Israel in 2000 in order to settle here. A year later, "in light of news about Arab shooting attacks against Jews," he decided to strike again. Based on information he found on the internet, Teitel made three improvised "shoe" bombs and planted them near the Israeli-Arab village of Abu Gosh. The indictment claims: "In his actions described above, the defendant made explosive shoe bombs and planted the explosive devices with the intention of severely harming random passersby."


Teitel rigged additional explosive devices using information he gathered from various literature and the internet as well as through experiments he made from time to time. In order to "train himself," he built an improvised pipe bomb filled with gun powder and installed a pyrotechnic activation device.


The defendant tested the efficacy of the bomb in a locale near Beit Shemesh, where he lived at the time. He used the insights he gained from these experiments to make the bomb he laid next to the Palestinian house isolated between the settlements Eli and Maale Levona in Binyamin. One of the residents of the house noticed the device and called police sappers to detonate it.


A short time after this, Teitel again tried to target Palestinians. According to the indictment, Teitel decided to poison Palestinian residents of an isolated village near Eli. To this end, Teitel diluted three bottles of toxic ethyl glycol, which is typically used in anti-freeze. He placed the bottles at the entrance to the village hoping that passersby would find the bottles, drink them, and die.


Missionaries and Sternhell in his sites

Teitel, according to the indictment, decided to take action against what he viewed as missionary activity in Israel. He opened an email account in order to contact the Ortiz family from Ariel after learning that the father of the family is the leader of a missionary group. After "gathering intelligence" and questioning neighbors, Teitel built a pipe bomb containing gun powder and shrapnel.


He planted the bomb at the bottom of a fake plant and used thin fishing wire to tie the activation mechanism to the bottom of the basket laid over the bomb. The defendant spread candies and sweets over the bomb and the basket. He wrapped the entire package in colorful cellophane and attached a greeting card for the Purim holiday. He then allegedly placed the holiday gift package at the entrance to the house.

Yaakov Teitel in court (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The cleaning woman, who was at that time working at Ortiz family home, saw the package, and, thinking it was nothing more than a harmless holiday gift, brought it into the house and placed it on the dining table. The teenager, Amiel Ortiz, went to take a piece of candy out of the basket and unknowingly detonated the bomb. Amiel sustained serious wounds as a result of the explosion.


Teitel is also indicted for laying a bomb in front of Prof. Zeev Sternhell's Jerusalem home. Teitel allegedly placed a plant in front of the Sternhell home with a note inscribed with the words "Kingdom of Judea." He laid the bomb inside the plant and connected the activation mechanism to Sternhell's doorknob so that the bomb would detonate when the door was opened. Sternhell later opened his door, detonating the bomb.


After laying the bomb, Teitel went to a nearby park where he distributed pamphlets in which was written: "A reward of NIS 1.1 million (about $290,000) promised to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now." He also wrote condemnations of the State and its institutions, calling the State the enemy and claiming that a state based on religious law must be established in Judea and Samaria. Signed at the bottom of the pamphlets was "the army of national liberators."


Some of the charges issued against Teitel in the indictment refer to actions he took against the gay and lesbian community.


Last month, shortly before his arrest, Teitel published pamphlets praising the murderer who is still at large who carried out the attack on the Tel Aviv gay youth community center. He called upon the public to follow in the path of the perpetrator, whom he called the "Black Bear," and encouraged continue killing anyone he called "the evil beasts." He signed the pamphlet "Shlisel Society," after the name of the man who stabbed participants in the gay pride parade held in Jerusalem in 2005.


Teitel was arrested in the middle of hanging these pamphlets in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. 


The family of Samir Balibisi, the east Jerusalem taxi driver allegedly murdered by Teitel in 1997, and the family of the Ariel teen, Amiel Ortiz, announced on Wednesday that they plan to file a civil lawsuit against Teitel and against the National Insurance Institute.


Some 120 witnesses are expected to appear before the court during the trial, including Prof. Sternhell and his wife, members of the Ortiz family and dozens of police officers, as well as Teitel's neighbor who was also arrested.


Teitel's lawyer, Attorney Adi Keidar, said Thursday, "We are all in for an interesting trial, and the court will have to provide answers on why Teitel was not allowed to meet with a lawyer and about the ways the Shin Bet made him confess."


The prosecutor, Attorney Sagi Ofir, said that "the indictment is unusual both in terms of the extent of the offenses and their severity, and in terms of the length of time over which he committed the offenses. It is mostly usual because of the hatred Teitel showed to individuals and groups whose opinions and lifestyles are different from his own."


פרסום ראשון: 11.12.09, 09:37
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