Analysis: Work of a lone wolf?

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

It is still unclear exactly how many murders settler Ya’akov (Jack) Teitel will eventually be charged with.

So far, the security services say he is to be accused of killing two Palestinians in 1997 and numerous counts of attempted murder, with the dead including Arabs, Christian clergymen, a left-wing professor, gay rights activists, messianic Jews and policemen.

The latest accusations centre on the mysterious double murder of two traffic policemen on a dark night in the Jordan Valley eight months ago, deaths that were originally blamed on Palestinian terror organisations.

Jewish terrorism is nothing new. For more than 30 years the Shin Bet (Security Service) has dealt with Israelis, usually settlers, murdering Palestinians, as well as left-wing politicians, activists and journalists, and of course the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin 14 years ago this week.

But almost all the attacks were the work of groups of varying size, groups that can be infiltrated and their communications intercepted. Teitel seems to have been a lone wolf.

It is alleged that the first murders were carried out while he was still an American tourist (with a gun he had smuggled in on a British Airways flight). Three years later he was arrested and questioned but released due to lack of evidence.

He still became an Israeli citizen, bringing in a cache of arms from the US on a ship-borne container and obtaining a gun license.

His settlement, Shevut Rachel, is not usually viewed as a hotbed of fanaticism, despite the fact that one of the residents murdered four Palestinian workers in a shooting spree four and a half years ago. But the case is still seen as a failure of the Shin Bet, who picked Teitel up in a random arrest as he distributed anti-gay leaflets.

Teitel was held incommunicado for almost four weeks and the media were forbidden to publish the arrest until last Sunday.

Shin Bet say they would be more effective against Jewish terrorists if they were able to use the methods they use against Palestinians.

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010