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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Killing hints at extremist revival
Interior of shot-up car
Three people were killed in the attack
By Middle East analyst Roger Hardy

The Israeli president and prime minister have condemned an attack in the West Bank on Thursday night which left three Palestinians, including an infant, dead.

A Jewish settler group has said it carried out the attack, though police say they cannot confirm this claim.

Police say the incident near the West Bank town of Hebron looks like a revenge attack by Jews against Palestinians.


The group is thought to be linked to Kach, the outlawed militantly anti-Arab group founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane

Three members of the same family - including a three-month-old baby boy - were shot dead as they were going home in a taxi.

The group that says it was responsible is the Committee for Road Safety, but behind that anodyne-sounding name is a more sinister one.

Underground group

The group is thought to be linked to Kach, the outlawed militantly anti-Arab group founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Portrait of Meir Kahane
The late Rabbi Meir Kahane
Hence the attack suggests the possible revival of the shadowy underground movement of extremist settlers that was active in the 1980s and '90s.

One of its members, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians in a mosque in 1994.

Tit-for-tat

That too was in Hebron, a town that is often a flashpoint in confrontations between settlers and Palestinians.

While some settlers condemn such violence, others regard people like Goldstein as heroes.

The danger now is of further tit-for-tat killings by groups that are not under the control of either the Israeli or the Palestinian authorities.

The settlers are angry, not just because of Palestinian attacks, but because they feel the man they helped to elect - Ariel Sharon - is pursuing a policy they regard as one of excessive restraint.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Roger Hardy
"The attack suggests the possible revival of the shadowy underground movement of extremist settlers"
The BBC's Orla Guerin
"The manhunt for the attackers went on through the night"
See also:

16 Jul 01 | Middle East
Hebron: City of strife
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
Arabs want US to push Israel
25 Jun 01 | Middle East
Greater Mid-East role urged for Europe
12 Jun 01 | Middle East
Hardliners disapprove of ceasefire plan
18 Jun 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Annan's Middle East progress
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