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Jewish Settler Kills Four Israeli Arabs In Attack on Bus

A crowd gathers as an official collects evidence after an Israeli soldier, absent without leave, opened fire on a bus in the town of Shfaram.
A crowd gathers as an official collects evidence after an Israeli soldier, absent without leave, opened fire on a bus in the town of Shfaram. (By Jerome Delay -- Associated Press)

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Israeli police officials said Zada, the son of secular Jewish parents, had recently moved to the West Bank settlement of Tapuah. Many of the community's roughly 600 residents are followers of the late Meir Kahane, who favored the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the land it occupied in the 1967 war. Many settlers believe the land was promised to the Jewish people by God.

Kahane's followers founded a yeshiva, or Jewish religious academy, in the settlement. The religious-political movement he inspired, known as Kach, is designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Israeli military officials said Zada, originally from the Israeli town of Rishon Letzion, had been absent from his unit in southern Israel since June 14 in apparent protest against the Gaza evacuation. He joined the army in January and was still undergoing basic training.

In a letter he left at his base, Zada wrote that he "could not be part of an organization that expels Jews," according to a copy published Thursday evening on the Israeli news Web site Ynet.

Nakad Nakad, 40, witnessed the shooting from the balcony of his home in the center of Shfaram. He said he heard shots from inside the bus, then watched as rifle fire sprayed from the windows into the street around it.

"It is clear he intended to kill Arabs inside Shfaram, to have a massacre," said Nakad, a political leader of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, a community movement. "That's why he waited for the bus to get inside the town."

Special correspondent Samuel Sockol contributed to this report.


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