A Snippet of Jewish Terrorism in the 1980s

Jewish Terrorists Try To Kill Three Mayors Of Palestinian Cities
By Donald Neff

It was 18 years ago, on June 2, 1980, that Jewish terrorists tried to assassinate three Palestinian mayors. Bombs exploded in the cars of Mayors Karim Khalaf of Ramallah and Bassam Shakaa of Nablus. Khalaf lost a foot and Shakaa both legs. A third bomb planted in the car of El Bireh Mayor Ibrahim Tawil was discovered before it could injure him.1

The bombings occurred at the end of the 30-day mourning period for six Jewish settlers killed in Hebron on May 2 by Palestinian terrorists. A day after the Hebron killings a group of 20 Jewish settlers from Kiryat Arba reacted to the massacre by secretly forming a Jewish Makhteret—underground—to strike fear in the Palestinians. The group was known as TNT—Terror against Terror.

TNT was led by Menachem Livni, commander of a reserve army battalion of combat engineers and a follower of Gush Emunim leader Moshe Levinger. Livni later recalled: “I met with Rabbi Moshe Levinger, and I expressed my view that for this kind of task pure people should be selected, people who are deeply religious, people who would never sin, people who haven’t got the slightest inclination for violence.”2

Reported Robert Friedman, an expert on Israeli extremism: The Makhteret “would become the most violent anti-Arab terrorist organization since the birth of Israel.”3

TNT was active over the next four years until the gang was finally arrested in 1984. A study of Jewish terrorism between 1980-1984 showed a sharp increase in Jewish terrorist incidents. There were 30 in 1980, 48 in 1981, 69 in 1982, 119 in 1983, and 118 in 1984. The number of Palestinians killed in the incidents was 23, with 191 injured.4

The New York Times reported in early 1983: “Bombs have been planted at mosques. Shots have been fired into Arab homes and automobiles. Arab youths accused of throwing stones at Israeli cars have been seized from schoolyards by angry settlers and taken to settlements or military headquarters….In the past, vigilantism in the West Bank usually went unpunished, for settlers argued effectively that the army was not doing enough to protect them in a hostile environment….Most of the clashes in the last few years in which settlers have shot and killed Arabs have produced no arrests, and none have resulted in a conviction.”5

TNT’s bloodiest act came on July 26, 1983, when masked gunmen invaded the Islamic College in Hebron and killed three Palestinian students and wounded 33 other students and teachers. Despite the carnage, Gush Emunim leader Levinger declared: “Whoever did this has sanctified God’s name in public.”6

TNT’s potentially most dramatic act came on Jan. 27, 1984, when it tried to blow up the two holiest Muslim shrines in Jerusalem—the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques on the Haram al-Sharif, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. TNT members smuggled 22 pounds of explosives and 18 hand grenades of Israeli army issue onto the Haram al-Sharif. The terrorists were discovered by a Muslim guard and fled before they could be arrested.7

Yehoshua Caspi, commander of Israel’s southern police district, said the army-issue hand grenades pointed to Jews as the perpetrators. He had good reason to be suspicious. During the previous month, 13 Israeli army hand grenades had been discovered planted as booby traps at mosques and churches in Palestinian villages. Three Palestinians—a Greek Orthodox nun, a Muslim imam and a Muslim worshipper—had been wounded in explosions.8

It was in late April 1984 that TNT was finally broken. More than three dozen Jews were arrested after three members attached bombs to five buses parked beside the homes of their Arab drivers in East Jerusalem. Shin Bet agents had infiltrated the group and dismantled the bombs before they detonated.9

The trial ground on for 13 months and was highly unpopular among a number of Israelis, who were sympathetic with the accused terrorists.10

Three Jews were convicted on July 22, 1985, for the Hebron Islamic College slaughter and other crimes, while others were exonerated or convicted of lesser crimes and mainly pardoned. The convicted murderers were TNT leader Livni, 41, and members Shaul Nir, 34, and Uzi Sharabaf, 28. All were highly regarded in the Jewish settler community, well educated, very religious, and Livni had a distinguished military record. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, but served less than seven years, including the time of their incarceration during the trial.11

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1998, Page 81

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