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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Israel halts Jewish 'terror cell'
West Bank settler
Israel's courts have never before admitted the existence of anti-Arab terror cells
An Israeli court has convicted a Jewish extremist for belonging to an organisation that carried out a series of deadly attacks against Arabs.

The charge sheet said Shahar Dvir-Zeliger's group - which was not named - attacked mainly against Arab schools.

Prosecution lawyers say it is the first time that a court in Israel has acknowledged the existence of a violent anti-Arab group.

The group murdered eight Palestinians and injured 16 in 2001 and 2002.

"This is a very serious outcome from a public point of view," said prosecution lawyer Dan Eldad.

"It is the first time that an Israeli court has determined that a Jewish terrorist organisation exists which had the aim of harming innocent Arab citizens," Mr Eldad told reporters outside the court.

The last comparable case in Israel was in 1994 when the Israeli Cabinet declared two extremist settler groups, Kach and Kahane Chai, as terrorist organisations.

Dvir-Zeliger, from the West Bank settlement of Adei Ad, was also found guilty on four other charges including being an accomplice to murder and weapons-related offences.

He is the third suspected member of the cell to be convicted, but the first to be directly linked to the group, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reports.

He is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

Two other suspected cell members - Yitzhak Pass and Matityahu Shvu - are serving two-year jail sentences on explosives charges.

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