Following the arrest of a West Bank settler suspected of multiple murders and bomb attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel must fight the terror posed by violent extreme rightists, whom he termed a "marginal minority."
The Shin Bet revealed that it arrested Shvut Rachel resident Yaakov Teitel last month for allegedly killing two Palestinians, and attempting to carry out a number of terror attacks against homosexuals, leftists and a Messianic Jewish family in the West Bank.
"There is still among us a minority that is not prepared to accept democracy and are not prepared to accept the rule of law," said Netanyahu in a statementafter news of the arrest broke.
"They do not represent the majority of the nation," the prime minister added. "They are a small and marginal group, but we have already seen the strength and damage of one murderer. We must continue to condemn the use of violence and to use all legal power against any attempt at violence."
Sternhell: Treat Jewish and Arab terrorists the same
Professor Ze'ev Sternhell, an outspoken critic of Israel who was one of Teitel's alleged targets, said on Sunday that he hoped the extreme rightist would be treated with the same legal severity as is given to suspected Palestinian terrorists.
"I'm pleased that the great effort put in by the police and the Shin Bet in pursuing the alleged criminal culminated successfully," said Sternhell, adding: "This is an important day for democracy."
"The attempt last year to severely hurt a man and his family simply because of his views and stances was a dangerous phase in the deterioration of civil rights and the right of the individual to affect Israeli society," Sternhell added, referring to the bomb attack that targeted him.
"If the perpetrator of this attack would not have been caught I think Israeli society would have paid the price," he said. "I hope the law enforcement system will treat this terrorist in the same way it does with any terrorist, Jew or Arab."
Teen victim of Teitel attack: I'm relieved he was caught
Ami Ortiz, the Ariel teenager who was seriously wounded two years ago when he opened a package bomb allegedly sent by Teitel, told Army Radio on Sunday he was still suffering from the devastating effects of the near-fatal attack, but that he was relieved that a suspect had been caught.
"Teitel disagreed with my family's views, and decided to kill using something as inconspicuous and carefree as a mishloach manot, a Purim gift basket," said Ortiz, whose parents are prominent in the Messianic Jewish community.
The 17-year-old added that "a child smiles when he sees a mishloach manot, but Teitel used something so pure to do a horrible thing, which almost killed me, and which leaves me still suffering."
"The blast left me critically wounded, hanging between life and death. I feel better now. The news of his arrest makes me very happy," Ortiz said. "It's just a relief to know that a man that tried to kill you is now in the hands of police, and that he can't hurt anyone anymore."
Ortiz also said that his community knew "that there were more people like him ready to do things of this nature, but we hope that security forces will do everything in their power to stop these people."
"Leah Ortiz, Ami's mother, concluded by saying that "knowing that someone who tried to kill us was arrested makes us breath a sigh a relief for the first time after a long period of living in fear."
MK Tamir: Right-wing terror still strong as we remember Rabin
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said following news of the arrest that he "categorically condemned the actions of the Jewish terrorist. It is the insane behavior of a lone man, one that is foreign to the ways of Judaism."
Labor MK Yuli Tamir, a former education minister, said that even as Israel commemorates the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the right-wing movement was still going strong.
"It turns out, on the anniversary of Rabin's assassination, that the breeding grounds of the far-right are continuing to grow stray weeds,"she said.
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said the suspected Jewish terrorist was "poisoned" by the rightist movement.
Lawyer for Messianic Jews: More attacks seems imminent
Calev Myers, the legal advisor of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, which represents many Messianic Jews who claim discrimination by the Israeli establishment, said attacks such as the one Teitel was alleged to have perpetrated could easily happen again.
"This religious attack is the rotten fruit of organized incitement," he said.
"These groups allow themselves to incite and hurt a persecuted minority and to sanction attacks against all messianic Jews," Myers said.
Such incement was prevalent even before the explosives were placed near the Ortiz residence in Ariel, but "the authorities did nothing," he said.
"Incitement continues even today and it's only a matter of time until the next religious attack," he added. "The writing is already on the wall."
Yonatan Ger, chairman of Jerusalem's gay and lesbian Open House, said that a clear line links "Teitel's horrific actions and hating others, whomever those others may be."
Although Teitel has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Tel Aviv gay youth club, many wonder if the murderer of Nir Katz, 26 and Liz Trobishi, 16, is still at large.
Mike Hamel, the head of Israel's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association, said that the gay community had "hoped that the police did in fact apprehend the murderer, but now it turns out that he isn't connected to killings, even though he confessed to have perpetrated them."
"I've spoken with police officials investigating the youth club murders and they told me they had a suspect who had tied himself to a series of attacks, and was responsible for distributing anti-gay posters all over Jerusalem, but that he wasn't suspected in the murders themselves," Hamel said.
However, Hamel said he was confident that "the police is doing everything in its power to solve the murder and that it is not interested in covering up for someone in any way."
Prominent gay journalist and filmmaker Gal Uchovsky commented on Teitel's arrest, as well as on the fact that he had confessed to the attacks on the Tel Aviv gay youth club, despite not being involved in the incident" A man who brags for a murder he didn't commit is crazy."
"It's very saddening to learn that there's someone in Israel who would like to admit to killing gay people and I hope his community rejects him and that its leaders clarify that they do not feel as he does on these issues."
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