Israelis uncover 'terrorist group' formed by West Bank settlers

ISRAELI security services have made a series of arrests recently in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. They claim to have uncovered a new 'Jewish underground'.

The Jewish underground that emerged in Hebron in the early 1980s plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim shrine in Jerusalem. This time, according to Israeli press reports, the suspects had intended to carry out a 'massacre' in an Arab village, and to blow up Orient House, the Palestinian headquarters in Arab East Jerusalem.

Israeli officials would not confirm the precise nature of the plot. But the seriousness of the allegations were highlighted on Monday, when the Supreme Court refused the suspects the right to see their lawyers, due to the 'threat to the security of the state'.

The intelligence services, heavily slated in the wake of the Hebron massacre for failing to monitor the likes of Baruch Goldstein - the doctor who slaughtered 29 Muslims in their Hebron mosque in February - have been keen to highlight the success of their recent Hebron operation. They have been leaking details even before the suspects have been formally charged.

The settlers were detained just two streets away from Orient House, carrying automatic weapons and grenades, according to newspaper reports. 'The Shin Bet (Israel's internal security service) uncovered an entire group of people who were going to carry out attacks which would have cost lives and could have hurt the fragile relationship between us and the Arabs,' said Ori Orr, chairman of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.

The arrests appear to confirm evidence that Goldstein was not a lone crazed maniac, but the product of violent fanaticism that has taken root in extremist Jewish settlements - particularly those in Hebron, where 7,000 Jews live in fortified enclaves inside this staunchly Muslim town of 100,000 Arabs.

In the wake of the massacre, the most rascist settler groups, Kach and Kahan Hai, were outlawed. The group just arrested, however, does not fit the traditional profile of extremist settlers. Most members were young and not well-known as activists. This suggests a new breed of lower-profile militant may be forming among young settlers.

The profile of those arrested also shows that the ties between elements in the Israeli army and extremist settlers are as strong as ever. Two of the men detained, Kobi Pinto and Oren Edri, are young army officers who lived in Kiryat Arba. Mr Pinto is in the elite Golani brigade.

All settlers have the right to carry arms. Kiryat Arba resembles a militia training camp, and most of its male settlers serve in the Israeli army reserves, often patrolling their own Arab neighbours. Goldstein was the Israeli army doctor in Hebron.

As emerged at the time of the massacre, the recruitment of militant settlers into the Israeli army also opens up the possibility of illegal weapons reaching extremist Jewish factions. At a court hearing yesterday, Mr Edri was accused of stealing arms and training civilians in military action.

The paranoia evident in Kiryat Arba has been building up ever since the Hebron massacre, when it appeared likely that some Hebron settlers would be removed. At the same time, the prospect of spreading Palestinian autonomy, which envisages the Israeli army redeploying out of Arab population centres like Hebron, and the arrival of Palestinian police, has raised questions about the future of Kiryat Arba.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Chief of Staff, said recently there was no intention to redeploy the army from Hebron. All the evidence suggests the presence of settlers here has been reinforced, with more army protection and more barricades. New building is underway in Kiryat Arba, and settlers say their numbers are rising. However, the settlers have no confidence in their own state to protect them. They say the recent arrests are a plot by the Rabin government to destabilise the settlers, and they refuse to believe any of the charges against the detainees, complaining instead of human rights violations and Israeli police harrassment.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice