Israeli investigators in a court case have presented evidence that could circumstantially link residents of the ultranationalistic Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba to the 1980 car bombings that maimed two militant Palestinian mayors of West Bank cities.
Two leaders of the settlement, founded by the followers of the Gush Emunim movement, were charged in court here this week with destroying evidence and illegal possession of weapons. Gush Emunim favors annexation of the West Bank as a part of historic Israel.
The two men were identified as Zeev Friedman, a member of the Kiryat Arba local council, and Shalom Rosenthal, the town's security officer.
According to the charge, about six months ago an electrician working in the settlement turned over to the two men a sophisticated bomb with an electronic detonator that he had discovered hidden in the wall of a building.
Friedman and Rosenthal were said to have noticed that the bomb was manufactured by the Israeli Army and was wrapped in Hebrew newspapers of the same day of the attack on the West Bank mayors. Fearing that the bomb would link Kiryat Arba to the car bombings, they destroyed it, the charges say.
The car bombs exploded on June 2, 1980. As a result of one blast, Bassam Shaka, the mayor of Nablus and an outspoken Palestinian nationalist, lost both of his legs.
Almost simultaneously, a second bomb exploded in the car of Ramallah Mayor Karim Khalaf. His left foot was amputated as a result of the attack. A third bomb, intended for Ibrahim Tawil, the mayor of El Bireh, blinded an Israeli policeman who was attempting to defuse it.