"New undergound" could be behind attack on professor - outgoing Israeli Prime Minister

Israel Materials 28 September 2008 18:03 (UTC +04:00)

A pipe bomb which wounded an outspoken critic of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank was apparently planted by an ultra-nationalist Jewish underground, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday.

Professor Ze'ev Sternhell was lightly wounded in the legs when the bomb exploded next to his house in Jerusalem early Friday morning, reported dpa.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Olmert told ministers that Israeli security services had been ordered to investigate the bombing "and to act with the greatest possible speed in order to bring those responsible for what seems like another underground to justice.

"An evil wind of extremism, of hatred, of malice, of violence, of running amok, of breaking the law, of contempt for the institutions of the state is blowing through certain sections of the Israeli public," he said.

The prime minister, who resigned his post last week, compared the attack Friday morning to the killing of peace activist Emil Greenzweig during a protest march in 1983, and to the murder of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

"It is impossible not to see a link between these events which have occurred over the years," he noted.

In the early 1980's a Jewish underground comprising mostly of settlers was active in the West Bank, planing bombs which wounded several Palestinian mayors and shooting up an Islamic seminary, killing three students.

Members of the group were caught and jailed, but had their sentences commuted after several years.

Stenhell, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and winner of the Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian award, said from his hospital bed Friday said the attack could either have been carried out by a lone Jewish extremist, a group, or "an entire settlement which decided to settle accounts (with me.)"

Investigating the attack Friday, police found fliers near Sternhell's home, offering a reward of over one million shekels (290,000 dollars) to anyone who kills a member of the dovish, anti-occupation and anti-settlement Peace Now protest group.