Palestinians Call for Arrest of Extremist Israeli Ministers over Hebron Killings

Published July 23rd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A Palestinian minister called Sunday for the arrest of two far-right members of the Israeli government he claimed were involved in the murder by Jewish extremists of three Palestinians, including a baby, said reports. 

"I demand that Rehavem Ze'evi and Avigdor Lieberman be detained and interrogated for their role in the killing of three Palestinians by settlers," Palestinian cabinet minister Hassan Asfour told Voice of Palestine radio. 

"They planned the attack, they met with radical settlers in Hebron two days before the killing, they are involved in organizing terrorist groups," Asfour said, cited by AFP. 

Three-month-old Diya Al Tmeizi and two adult members of his family were slain on Thursday night in an attack near the West Bank town of Hebron claimed by an extremist group with links to settlers and the outlawed anti-Arab movement Kach. 

Zeevi, who serves as tourism minister in the coalition government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and Infrastructure Minister Lieberman both advocate a harsh line against the Palestinians. 

Another Palestinian official said that Palestinian security forces had precise knowledge as to the identity of the killers of the three Palestinians, Israel Radio reported Monday, cited by Haaretz newspaper.  

Head of the Palestinian Intelligence Department Azzam Al Hindi said the information had been passed to American officials, and that on Wednesday the PA would formally demand that Israel arrest those responsible.  

In an interview with the Palestinian Al Hayat Al Jadida newspaper, Hindi was quoted as saying the PA also had information on contacts between "Jewish terror groups of settlers" and Israeli officials, including rightist cabinet ministers. He said that Ze'evi, Lieberman, and Deputy Army Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon were involved in the killings. 

Lieberman has in recent weeks called for the liquidation of Palestinian "terrorists" and the destruction of the self-rule authority of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. 

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres condemned as "horrifying and abominable" the Hebron murders, which have triggered warnings of reprisal attacks by Palestinian militants. 

"These people brought shame to the Jewish people and disaster to Israel. They are cowards and if they had a drop of self-respect, they would go to the nearest police station and turn themselves in," he said in a statement. 

Peres, the leading dove in the right-dominated government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Israel has "no interest in escalation." 

Israeli public television reported that several known right-wing extremists had been called in for "warning conversations" with the Shin Beth domestic security service, although it was not clear if they were linked to Thursday's attack. 

Last week, Shin Beth chief Avraham Dichter said there was a "terrorist cell" operating in the southern West Bank region around Hebron, although he denied reports that a vast network of Jewish terrorists existed. 

Palestinian intelligence chief Amin Al Hindi, meanwhile, said he planned to hand information over about the suspected killers at a meeting with Israeli security chiefs and US representatives on Wednesday. 

"I will hand over information and names of the killers to the Israeli side when we meet Wednesday and we will provide the Americans with full information on individuals and groups involved in the attack," he told Voice of Palestine. 

Since the September 2000 eruption of the latest Palestinian uprising against 34 years of Israeli military occupation, the media has reported that Palestinians have killed at least 125 Israelis with weapons ranging from stones and knives to machineguns and car bombs. Israeli military sources have reported well over 600 injuries to Israelis of Jewish descent.  

In the same time period, according to the UK newspaper the Guardian, Israeli soldiers and armed Jewish settlers have killed 13 Arab Israelis and 510 Palestinians with weapons ranging from machineguns and tanks to US-made Apache helicopter gunships and F-16s.  

According to an Amnesty International report, nearly 100 of the Palestinians killed were children. In addition, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has reported over 14,000 Palestinians wounded.  

Jewish author Noam Chomsky, who according to a New York Times Book Review article is “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” has been quoted as saying: “State terrorism is an extreme form of terrorism, generally much worse than individual terrorism because it has the resources of a state behind it.” – Albawaba.com 

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