Tapuach settler opens fire in a crowded bus, kills four

Shooter was IDF deserter from W. Bank settlement
By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies

A Jewish Israeli man in Israel Defense Forces uniform opened fire on bus passengers in a Druze neighborhood of the Israeli Arab town of Shfaram Thursday afternoon. Four people and the gunman were killed and 12 wounded, two of them moderately.

Security forces said the shooting was apparently a Jewish terror attack and that the attacker was a newly religious man, an IDF deserter, from the West Bank settlement of Tapuah. Security forces said the gunman, Eran Tzuberi, 19, was a member of the outlawed right-wing extremist Kach movement. Tzuberi, who went AWOL a year ago, recently moved to the West Bank from Rishon Letzion.

A mob boarded the bus and attacked the shooter, but police officers removed the Lower Galilee residents from the bus and surrounded it to protect the attacker. Dozens of people threw stones and bottles at the bus while the gunman was aboard, and police feared they would set the bus on fire. Five police officers were wounded by the mob.

Police were mobilizing in the north of the country, fearing possible riots in Arab towns, Channel 10 reported. Thousands of people were gathered around the bus after the shooting.

The shooting apparently took place in the wake of a dispute between the soldier and fellow passengers on Egged bus No. 165, which goes from Haifa to Shfaram.

  1. More on the attack
    I don’t get it. It was expected settlers from the most militant settlements would attack Arabs to disrupt the pullout. But why would this guy attack Druze? Could he not have realized he was attacking Druze, and not other Arabs?

    This may cause a huge rift between the Druze and Jewish communities. I don’t recall Jews ever attacking Druze. Even in ’48, when some Druze communities joined the Arab rebellion, no reprisals were made against them, because the Jews planned to bring them into the compact with the state.

    Last update – 22:58 04/08/2005
    IDF, police fear riots in wake of Shfaram shooting
    By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies

    A Jewish Israeli man in an Israel Defense Forces uniform opened fire on passengers on a bus in a Druze neighborhood of the Israeli Arab town of Shfaram on Thursday afternoon, killing four people and wounding 12. The terrorist was killed by a mob that boarded the bus after the shooting.

    The police sent hundreds of reinforcements to the north of the country, fearing possible riots in Arab towns, similar to those in October 2000, in which 13 Arab citizens were killed.

    Some of the officers were flown in from the Jerusalem and West Bank districts via IDF helicopters to reach the region as quickly as possible. The police force also began mobilizing patrol vehicles, water cannons, helicopters and mounted police to disperse any violent demonstrations.


    In addition, the IDF raised the alert level in parts of the West Bank, as did jails holding Jewish and Arab prisoners in the same complex.

    The Israeli Arab Follow-Up Committee announced a general strike Thursday and called for a protest rally Friday in Nazareth.

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, with Sharon calling it “a sinful act by a bloodthirsty terrorist.”

    The attacker – Eden Tzuberi, 19 – was a newly religious man, an IDF deserter from Rishon Letzion who recently moved to the West Bank settlement of Tapuah. He was an activist in the outlawed extreme-right Kach movement and went AWOL a month ago to protest the disengagement plan.

    Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated the wounded to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

    Avtihaj Salameh, a passenger on Egged bus 165 at the time of the shooting, said that when the bus, which set out from Haifa, entered Shfaram, the driver asked passengers to request that the man dressed in an army uniform come up to him. The driver asked the man if he hadn’t made a mistake, and whether he really intended to reach Shfaram.

    According to Salameh, the gunman stood by the driver for a few minutes. When the bus entered the Druze neighborhood, Salameh rang the bell signaling that she wanted to get off at the next stop, and stood by the rear door of the bus. She said that at that moment, the gunman, who was standing by the driver, opened fire inside the bus.

    The shooting continued for more than five minutes, until youths, among them a security guard, arrived and subdued the gunman.

    Shortly after the shooting, a mob boarded the bus and attacked Tzuberi, killing him.

    A resident of the neighborhood in which the shooting took place said there were 10-15 passengers on the bus at the time of the shooting. The witness said that when the shooting began, a mob approached the bus, but wasn’t able to board it. The minute the gunman ran out of bullets and tried to switch magazines, the mob tackled him.

    The mob kicked the gunman and hurled objects at him. Police officers surrounded the bus in an attempt to protect the gunman from the mob, but moved away when they thought the Lower Galilee residents were going to set the bus on fire. Five police officers were wounded by the mob.

    Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi said police forces had been diverted to the south to deal with anti-pullout protestors, leaving the north of the country short-handed. “We have sent forces from the center, and those from the south who were supposed to be going home have now been diverted to the north,” he said.

    The settlement of Tapuah, where Tzuberi lived, is one of the most extreme settlements, dominated by followers of U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, who believed in expelling Arabs from Israel and the West Bank. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.

    There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years, but rarely inside Israel. In 1990, an Israeli opened fire at a bus stop where Palestinians gathered for job placements, killing seven.

    In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish settler, entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron and opened fire on Muslim worshippers, killing 29 – the bloodiest attack by a Jewish extremist against Palestinians.

    The October 2000 riots erupted in the north of the country as the intifada was breaking out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A commission of inquiry into the rioting was highly critical of the police and pointed to deep-seated feelings of discrimination among Israeli Arabs.

    1. A mixed town
      The answer seems to be that Shafaram is a mixed town, half Sunni Muslim, the rest Druze and Christian Arabs, according to the Jerusalem Post.

      And it is expecting too much sense in the mind of the shooter to have worried much about the distinction, anyway.

      It sounds like Tzuberi may have been part of the Jewish Legion, a Kahanist paramilitary organization that brings Jews from around the world to “protect” Tapuach. Note the following from Jpost:

      Ikutiel Ben Yaacov, the founder of the far-right Jewish Legion group based in the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, shared police suspicions that such an attack might be aimed at disrupting Israel’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

      “We hope that [Natan] Eden [Zadah]’s death will not have been in vain,” said Ben Yaacov, and added that “his murder will derail this sadistic disengagement plan.”

      For more on the Jewish Legion, see WW3 Report #67

      1. Druze soldier: Tomorrow I’m taking off my uniform
        Stunned Shfaram residents furious with state over attack
        By Eli Ashkenazi and Jack Khoury
        Ha’aretz, Aug. 5

        A young soldier in an IDF uniform stood trembling with fury, or shock, at the sight of the bus in which four people had been murdered an hour earlier.

        “Tomorrow I’m taking off my uniform, and I’m calling on all the Druze to take theirs off. This is a lousy state that incites against us all the time,” he said.

        The terrorist attack in the heart of Shfaram yesterday aroused a host of emotions, mainly deep fury. Residents are furious with the state they say has been discriminating against them all these years, and with the atmosphere in the Israeli street that makes it permissible to kill Arabs with impunity.

        Hundreds of youngsters, at a loss as to how to unleash their anger, found a venue in the bus and the murderer’s body. A young man jumped from the bus’ roof, after bashing it and the windows. His hand was bleeding, and he took glass slivers out of it. His friends applauded.

        “We killed him. We didn’t leave a trace of him,” he said, referring to the Jewish terrorist. Hours later, hundreds of Shfaram residents still crowded around the bus. They felt confused, asking why this happened to them, and what would happen now.

        “This is the state that is constantly inciting against us,” said an upset resident. “The right wingers are trying to stop the disengagement by murdering Arabs.” Another added: “It’s clear there are many others like him who want to murder us. We’re not afraid.”

        Another youngster said he was afraid. “I’m considered suspect everywhere. People look at me as though I were a terrorist, but I’m the persecuted one here. I want protection from the state.”

        The chairman of the Histadrut’s Galilee Center District, Aboud Hasib, a Shfaram resident, said: “From today, I’ll be afraid of sending my son on the bus. The government enables free incitement against us, therefore giving the radicals a free reign.”

        Shfaram municipal council member Ahmed Hamdi stood weeping at the roadside. “This is a sad day in our history. I’m still upset by the crime committed here. A settler killed citizens in cold blood. This is the result of the incitement against us Arabs. Fascism has taken over the country, and the government is not acting -to stop it.”

        The residents said the police at first tried to disperse the angry crowd by force. “I never saw them use such force against settlers. But obviously it’s okay to use force against us,” another resident said.

        Shfaram Mayor Ursan Yassin, a devoted Likud activist who frequently hosts right-wing ministers, was also in the crowd. “See that, Ursan?” asked a young man beside him. “They chose to do that to you here in your town, although you wrap yourself up in the Israeli flag all day long.”

        Shfaram’s 35,000 residents consist of Muslims, Druze and Christians. Unemployment is high, and residents fear that now their Jewish neighbors will be afraid to go shopping in Shfaram’s commercial center, compounding the damage caused by the terrorist attack.

        1. Settler paper tries to disown shooter
          Arutz Sheva, a settler-run news organization, has tried to disavow that Zada was living in Tapuach:

          Angry residents lynched the 19-year-old following the shooting. He was identified as Eden Natan Zada from Rishon L’tzion, a city south of Tel Aviv. Israeli media reported that he recently moved to the Kfar Tapuach community in northeast Samaria after turning to religion and becoming involved in extreme political activism, but the administrator of the community said he never heard of the man.

          But a representative of the Kahanist Jewish Legion in Tapuach seemed quite familiar with Eden, according to JPost:

          Ben-Ya’acov said he knew Zada as “a soft-spoken [and] very pious Jew,” adding that Tzuberi was “very interested in Judaism. He was a very special soul.”

          “We hope Eden’s death will not have been in vain,” said Ben-Ya’acov, “and that his murder will derail this sadistic disengagement plan.” He demanded a police investigation of the shooter’s murder by the crowd.

          Ben-Ya’acov called Zada “the first casualty of the disengagement, which is tearing part the nation of Israel.”

          And Ha’aretz reports that three Kach accomplices from Tapuach have been arrested by Shabak:

          Three friends of Natan-Zada were arrested between Thursday and Friday on suspicion they knew of the plan to attack Arabs, Israel Radio reported.

          The three, aged 15-17 and residents of Tapuah, were arrested by security forces.

          It is particularly lame that Arutz Sheva, so proud of its vast illegal settlement enterprise, disavows one its “wild weeds.”

          The Yesha council, the settlement governing body, also tried to dissasociate themselves from Eden:

          “Repeatedly referring to him as ‘a settler’ even though he was not a resident of any settlement is an attempt to slander a whole population who is leading a democratic protest in an exemplary way. It would be better to act with more responsibility instead of criticizing only in order to gain dubious political benefits.”

          1. Jeffrey Goldberg article on Tapuach
            A settler from Tapuach told Goldberg he wanted to see Sharon killed:

            The session came to an end, and five of us jumped in a pickup truck to drive to Tel Aviv. I sat in the back, next to Ezra, who carried an M-16 with two clips, though he is not in the Army. The conversation turned to the far right’s struggle against Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw settlements from Gaza.

            “He should die,

            1. Eden’s Tapuach friends celebrate
              Tapuach settlement says it is kicking out the Jewish Legion, and that the Kahanists are only a small part of the settlement. Ha.

              August 06, 2005



    It has been reported by Yekutiel Guzofsky, the Editor in Chief of the Voice of Judea web site that rumors are circulating concerning his impending arrest. In a statement released early Sunday morning, June 11th, Guzofsky, he states, “While I am not on the run, and I have no reason to go underground, rumor has it that the Israeli authorities are planning to arrest me and several others next week. I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law of the land. This would not be the first time that I would be arrested by the Shin Bet or Israeli police without due cause. This would not be the first time I am persecuted for my Torah views and my love of Israel.”

    This news comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with Mr. Guzofsky. He is an outspoken opponent of the Olmert government’s convergence-expulsion plan and has been a long time critic of the Israeli government’s attempts to eradicate Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and was active in attempts to prevent the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif last summer.

    His statement goes on to tell of the reasons leading to his possible arrest. It states, “Thursday afternoon, Jeffrey Seath and Shmulik Bezalel were arrested at the port in Haifa waiting to release a container of tools shipped to Jeff from the states. Jeff, a 37 year old new immigrant to Tapuach Israel, converted to Judaism, and came home to Israel several months ago. He came to Israel during these critical times to help secure “settlements” with his specially trained tracking dogs. In spite of the news black-out related to his and Shmulik’s arrest, the attorneys who have been prevented from seeing their clients claim that more arrests are on the way and that Jeff is being accused of importing a weapon or parts of a weapon. Shmulik had evidently driven Jeff to the port and why exactly they are holding him remains unclear.

    As far as I am concerned Jeff is innocent until proven guilty. The fact is that Jeff comes from North Carolina where guns are bought and sold over-the-counter. I have no idea if Jeff made the stupid error of bringing one of his licensed weapons from the states to Israel on his lift. It is clear that the police plan on rounding up more people, very likely including myself the former leader of the outlawed Jewish Legion.”

    It is clear from Mr. Guzofsky’s statement, that charges against these two men have not yet been made and we are not certain if they have engaged in any form of weapons smuggling. It is also clear that if Guzofsky is arrested it will be an egregious violation of his civil rights. In a true democracy one cannot be charged with “guilt by association”. It is also quite clear that the police witch hunt as been accelerated against opponents of the Olmert government.

    Anyone who dare speaks out against expulsion of Jews from their homes and the subsequent demolition of Jewish settlements can be a target for persecution in what has become a totalitarian regime in Israel. As we know, the State of Israel does not have a constitution which protects the rights of free speech and of due process in cases of arrest. It is quite probable that Guzofsky could be remanded and held under administrative detention for a protracted period of time. This move would prevent him from having contact with any legal representation that he may have. The Shin Bet would have ample time to interrogate and torture him into a false confession that could potentially lead to an indictment and a very long prison term.

    Anyone who is familiar with the basic tenets of a democratic government knows that these draconian measures do not fall within the parameters of a “democracy”. Mr. Guzofsky has spent many years protecting the Jewish residents of Yesha while involved in The Jewish Legion. He was the first to import canine dogs in to Israel for the express purpose of bomb sniffing. These dogs have been prepared for their task by qualified and experienced dog trainers. While on patrol of Jewish settlements, these dogs and their handlers have prevented numerous attacks aimed at Jewish settlements. In response to the efforts made by The Jewish Legion in attempting to protect and preserve Jewish lives, the Israeli government has sought and was successful in outlawing The Jewish Legion. Many Jewish Legion members live on the settlement of Tapuach in the northern Shomron. It is the same settlement that Binyamin Kahane, HY’D, ZTK’L and many Kahane supporters lived.

    It is now clear what the motivation behind the impending arrest of Mr. Guzofsky is. It is clearly a government plot to destroy the last vestiges of Jewish resistance to further expulsion of Jews in Judea and Samaria. How easy it would be to arrest a “Kahanist” and call him a “terrorist”. How simple it would be to gain public support for such an arrest. After all, the fascist media in Israel, with the help of the government of Israel has successfully indoctrinated the Israeli public to believe that anyone associated with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY’D, ZTK’L is a potential terrorist.

    After all, who would go to bat and speak out on behalf of Mr. Guzofsky and others in the Kahane movement? Surely, it wouldn’t be the Israeli Association for Civil Rights or any other public advocacy group. They are clearly associated with defending the rights of Arabs and Jewish leftists who are arrested in Israel. Tragically, we cannot depend on the support of the organized, mainstream Yesha community, who are dependent on the IDF for protection and have defended their actions when it came to forcibly evicting Jewish settlers from their homes.

    Mr. Guzofsky unequivocally proclaims his innocence of any involvement in any weapons smuggling charges, as he states in his release. “I am not hiding and I am not running away. I did nothing wrong and I will not behave like a fugitive on the run. Furthermore, while I am not condoning weapon smuggling into Israel, I find it hard to condemn anyone for taking basic measures to defend himself, his community or his family, especially when the government refuses to offer all of the necessary defense to its citizens for political reasons in order to appease the Arabs and international community. That having been said, I must again stress that I have no idea if Jeff brought anything in his lift that would be considered illegal in Israel.”

    We must not allow the Israeli government to falsely arrest and possibly indict Mr. Guzofsky on any bogus charges of weapons smuggling or engaging in any criminal act. Now is the time to galvanize our community and speak out against this outrageous violation of basic civil rights. It is time to provide total support and succor to Mr. Guzofsky and others who are potential targets in this witch hunt.

    Mr. Guzofsky appeals to the public for their support in his release, when he states, “For those of you who have supported me and the various projects I direct on behalf of Israel and Jewish defense, please continue to support these projects. Don’t allow the authorities to silence me or destroy the vital programs I have started. The raising of defense dogs for Israel will continue, regardless of any arrest that may be carried out against me. The vital referendum to save Israel will continue. The Voice of Judea will continue, with G-d’s help and with your generous support.

    Now more than ever I appeal to you for desperately needed funds for Jeffrey and Shmulik’s defense as well as for the defense of others such as myself who may be arrested in spite of the fact that we did nothing wrong whatsoever. Please help our defense and help us spread the Jewish message of truth and survival in Israel by sending a generous contribution to:
    Yekutiel Guzofsky POB 6592 Jerusalem Israel.”

    Let us remember Mr. Guzofsky’s final words of his reIease which states, “I am not scared of the Israeli police. Their hysteria and persecution of people like me, show how desperate they are and how much they indeed realize that we enjoy the support of the grassroots and masses. It is only a question of time and they know that. The police and their prisons do not scare me, nor do the Arabs. I am much more scared and frightened of Jewish apathy.

    Dont stand by idly. Please help now.”

    The time has come to muster up enough strength to have the courage of our convictions. Now is the time to support those who are being unfairly targeted for their beliefs. Now is the time to prevent Israel from transforming in to a complete police state, with no regard for democratic principles. For if we do not speak out when we had the ability, who will be there for us, when we choose to speak out and our views are not popular.

    The Torah enjoins us to preserve and defend justice and righteousness. “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof”. Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.

    May the Almighty G-d of Israel give us the strength and courage to speak out and defend justice and may He protect those who are falsely charged and imprisoned.