Friday, June 20, 2008

Settler rocket lands beside an Arab at prayer

On the Yeshiva Od Yosef Hai, an extremist religious school about 3 km outside Nablus, the students in knitted skullcaps aren't exactly rocket scientists. But they can consult the Internet and tinker with explosives. Two weeks back, rowdy theological students fired a homemade steel rocket at the Palestinian village nearby. Virtually identical to the Hamas militants' Qassams, the rocket was of basic design and wildly inaccurate. Who would have guessed that during the leadup to the this week's agreed "lull" in the hostilities in Gaza, the West Bank would get peppered by an improvised 'Kosher' Kassam or two?

Maariv, a Hebrew language daily, headlined their piece "Yeshiva Student from Yitzhar Built Kassam Rocket and Fired it on Arab Village", as if it were a one-off incident. But according to the AP wires, plenty of weapons are stashed in the settlement and radical settlers fire at Arab villages nearby. These aggressive moves somehow are seen as pre-emptive self-defense in the Promised Land. Unlike in Sderot, no Red Dawn warning sounds a few moments before these rockets explode.

A Kassam of One’s Own

A Blue and White Kassam Rocket
Ma’ariv (p. 4) by Roi Sharon -- The settlement Yitzhar in Samaria has been in an uproar in the wake of an unprecedented affair. A pupil who attends the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in the settlement fired a home-made Kassam rocket from a hilltop near the settlement in the direction of a Palestinian village. The first person to be questioned in the incident was Rabbi Itzik Shapira, the yeshiva principal, who was arrested yesterday.
Shortly before the incident, members of the launching crew informed people on the settlement that an experiment was about to be held and that an explosion would sound. The launching crew members said that the explosion in question would be controlled and ought to be ignored by residents of the settlement. The rocket, which was comprised of a launching construct, a pipe and explosives, landed in farmland between Yitzhar and the Palestinian village. The rocket exploded. Breslau Hassid happened to be standing in the field and praying a few meters away from where the rocket exploded. He was not injured.
After the rocket exploded, which created a very loud report throughout the sector, large numbers of military troops were sent to the area. The security forces were inclined to believe at first that this had been a terror attack, but a preliminary examination established that the rocket had been fired from the settlement at the village and not the other way around. As soon as Central Command officials understood that they were dealing with Jewish rocket fire, the investigation was turned over to the GSS and to the Samaria and Judea District Police.
The detectives believe that the student who assembled the rocket, and who has yet to be arrested, obtained the know-how from the internet. The detectives are now trying to establish who supplied the boy with the explosives and who were his partners to the launching.
The yeshiva administration, which understood immediately that this was a red line that had been crossed, immediately expelled the student who was responsible for the rocket fire.
Residents of the settlement, where the incident is commonly referred to as the ‘rocket incident,’ also disassociated themselves vehemently from the people responsible. The Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva is identified with the extreme right wing, and many of the 20 people who were banned from entering Judea and Samaria a year and a half ago are students at that yeshiva.
Incidentally, the president of the yeshiva is Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, the author of a book that praises Baruch Goldstein [who perpetrated the 1994 massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron].
The GSS recently provided the police with information that might lead to a few additional suspects in the incident and asked the police to carry out a number of arrests and searches. Yesterday morning dozens of police officers arrived at the yeshiva in Yitzhar, conducted a search of the premises and confiscated a number of computers. The search provided the police with no new information. The police also detained Rabbi Itzik Shapira and another two people, who were turned over to the GSS for questioning in a nearby military base.
All three were released after a three-hour interrogation. The three are not suspected of being involved in the incident but were questioned with the purpose of obtaining information that might facilitate the investigation.
A central figure in Yitzhar said in response: “As opposed to the incidents surrounding the destruction of the trailer, in the rocket affair the settlement completely disassociates itself from the behavior of the yeshiva students. The settlement places full responsibility on the yeshiva administration for the acts of its students and refuses to back up the yeshiva on this affair.”
The security forces view the incident with extreme gravity since it is the first time that right wing elements have tried their hand at high trajectory fire.
The Samaria and Judea District Police said that “the incident is still under investigation.” A GSS spokesman said that the General Security Service would not discuss the incident.

After the loud explosion, continued the Jerusalem Post, a large number of IDF soldiers arrived at the scene, concerned that a terror attack had been perpetrated. However, the troops discovered that the rocket had been fired from the Yitzhar area and not from Palestinian territory.

When the IDF Central Command was informed that the rocket had been fired by Jews, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Judea and Samaria Police opened an investigation.

Police spokesman Danny Poleg said Friday that detectives searched Yitzhar and questioned residents but made no arrests.

Ma'ariv said that the student allegedly learned how to make the rocket on the Internet. Detectives were trying to find out who provided the explosives and who else was involved in the incident.Yeshiva heads immediately expelled the student responsible.

The yeshiva is strongly affiliated with the extreme Right and some of its students were among the 20 people police banned from Judea and Samaria--aka Occupied Palestinian Territory-- about a year ago. The yeshiva's president, Yitzhak Ginsberg, has written a book in praise of Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 massacred Muslims at prayer in Hebron.

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