Cool, calculated 'Jewish terrorist' shows no remorse in court
'It is a pleasure and an honor to serve my Lord; I do not regret it,' says West Bank settler Teitel.
Cool. Trained. Collects intelligence. Tries to cover his identity. Prepares escape routes. A professional who coolly squeezes the trigger.
The indictment against Yaakov (Jack) Teitel on Thursday presented an image of a precise, trained terrorist who operated for 12 years, leaving nearly no trace. Until he was caught.
"It is a pleasure and an honor to serve my Lord. I do not regret it," he shouted during a hearing to extend his remand, adding that he had no doubt that God approved of his actions.
The 120 prosecution witnesses will describe two murders, four attempted murders, four cases of incitement, three weapons violations, four cases of illegally manufacturing weapons, one arson and threats motivated by hate.
The more serious charges are those involving murder, of course. The charge sheet states everything was premeditated. A native-born American, he made up his mind when he was still living in the United States to go to Israel in order to kill Arabs. He took apart a pistol, put the metal parts in a video recorder and the plastic parts into a coat pocket. When he arrived in Israel, he purchased 200 rounds and practiced shooting, all the while collecting intelligence.
In June 1997, he hired a car at the Eldan rental agency, and parked it near the Holyland Hotel. He then went to the city center, walked to Damascus Gate, and caught a Palestinian taxi. On the way he spoke about the weather, to ensure that the driver was an Arab. Near the hotel, he shot the driver, Samir Bablisi, once in the head. He drove away with the car he had rented earlier. Two youths returning from the Malcha Mall found Bablisi's body.
After that success, Teitel found a job as a shepherd with the Bamberg family at the settlement of Sussia. The family refused to talk Thursday. As he walked with the herd, he noticed that pedestrians on the side of the road were an easy target. He left his job so that he would not be suspected, and moved to a Jerusalem hostel. In August 1997 he bought a gift for his former employers, and rented a white Fiat. When he saw a Palestinian shepherd, Isa Jabarin, he stopped and asked him for directions to Jerusalem. Jabarin leaned toward the car window, not understanding the question. Teitel pulled out his pistol and shot Jabarin twice, killing him. Frighteningly cool, Teitel continued on to the Bamberg household, 10 minutes away from the murder scene, and gave them their gifts.
Several days after the second murder, Teitel was arrested in one of the area settlements, because he was driving a car similar to the one he was driving when he killed the shepherd. He was questioned and released, and he returned to the United States.
When the intifada broke out, Teitel came back. Sometime in 2001, having read reports of Palestinian shooting attacks targeting Jews, Teitel decided to go after Palestinians.
He learned how to prepare bombs online. First he placed three mines near Abu Ghosh. In 2003 he placed a bomb he made near the home of a family living near the road between Alei Lema'ala and Levona. A police sapper disabled the bomb. Another time he placed three bottles of poisoned juice near a Palestinian village, hoping someone would drink from them. As far as is known, no one did.
In June 2005, Yishai Shlisel stabbed three marchers in Jerusalem's gay pride parade. The incident occurred six weeks before the Gaza Strip disengagement. The country was boiling. The events excited Teitel's imagination. At that point he changed direction, drawing inspiration from Shlisel. In August 2005, he started a fire near the Beit Jamal monastery.
In July 2006, the gay pride parade planned for Jerusalem was arousing opposition. The police received many warnings about trouble brewing. Teitel disseminated a flyer in Jerusalem's Ramot Polin neighborhood, containing instructions on how to make a "Shlisel Special" and a "Spike Shlisel," improvised weapons to use against parade participants. He promised NIS 20,000 to anyone who attacked a homosexual, and signed the leaflet "The Red Hand for Salvation."
In the end the parade was postponed to November, but Teitel continued sending threatening letters. But since the organizers continued their preparations undaunted, Teitel decided to take harsher measures. In early November, he placed a bomb near a police station at Alei Am, with a note on a piece of wood, "Sodomites Out." The bomb was defused by a sapper.
In the end the parade was canceled, and the event was held in a stadium instead. Encouraged by his success, Teitel tried to foil the parade scheduled for June 2007 as well. Meanwhile he went back to the Beit Jamal monastery, and planted a bomb near a tractor, injuring the tractor driver. Nearby, police found fliers offering NIS 50,000 for the head of a "sodomite."
In June, he placed another bomb under a car belonging to the Tamima family in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood, mistaking it for a police vehicle. He set the timer and fled, but the timer malfunctioned and the bomb went off a day later, when the vehicle was no longer in the parking space. No one was hurt, and the matter received little media attention.
A month later he placed another bomb on the main road near Ramot, attached to a wire. He waited at the scene, holding the wire, in order to detonate the bomb if a police car passed by. He detonated the bomb, but caused no injuries. This was the only time he personally set off a bomb.
His deadliest bomb was sent to the Ortiz family in Ariel. In the end of 2007, he found out online that the messianic Jewish family was proselytizing, and began collecting information. He contacted them through a false name from an Internet cafe, and said he wanted to pray with the community.
"He used to sit here a lot," cafe owner Moshe Cohen told Haaretz. "Two months ago he was sitting here, and 10 minutes later five detectives came in and took his computer and the security camera tapes. After that I saw him in the news."
Teitel placed a package near the door of the Ortiz household. The cleaning lady brought it inside, and the family's teenage son Ami opened the box, and was seriously injured by the bomb.
After the Ortiz family attack, Teitel decided that the Kingdom of Judah needed to be set up in Judea and Samaria. He prepared a manuscript calling for attacks on Arabs, police, judges and missionaries, and included instructions on bomb making. He also set a bomb outside the home of Professor Zeev Sternhell, because he had received the Israel Prize. The elderly professor was lightly injured.