A colleague of Gabriel Cadis, the Jaffa leader who was killed on Friday, said Cadis had received threats from the family that saw six of its members arrested over the weekend in connection with the crime.

One of the men arrested was Talel Abu Mana, who denies any allegations against him and has volunteered to take a lie-detector test to establish his innocence.

On Sunday, Sami Abu Shehadeh, a Jaffa community leader who was with Cadis at the time of the murder, said that "the dispute with the Abu Mana family is very well-known. We have lots of questions that need to be answered."

According to Abu Shehadeh, "Maybe we didn't take threats [by members of the Abu Mana family] seriously; maybe the rational logic that guides us, as sane people, is not the same logic that governed those who committed this murder. There's no doubt it was a premeditated act."

Otherwise members of Jaffa's Christian community say the police don't appear to be making rapid strides two days after the funeral of Cadis, the head of the city's Orthodox Church Association who was murdered during a service for Greek Orthodox Christmas. Witnesses say the assailant was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

"The police indicated that they would come back to us when the have a lead - and they have yet to come back to us," said Peter Habash, the Orthodox Church Association's secretary, who was close to Cadis.

Habash insists that Cadis was not involved in a dispute that could lead to such a tragic result. "As someone who was very close to [Cadis], I didn't get the feeling that he was living in an atmosphere of fear and threat," Habash said. "On the contrary, he walked freely on the street, without trying to hide from anyone."

Police are investigating whether the killing was connected to a struggle over real estate assets belonging to the association. Officials of the Orthodox Church Association say such speculation grossly exaggerates the scope of Orthodox-controlled property in Jaffa.

Cadis, from a very prominent Jaffa family, was a lawyer and ran an accounting firm. Last month he was elected for a second straight term as head of the Orthodox Church Association, a charitable body.