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    Israeli Settlers Tried To
    Blow Up Arab Girls' School
    The Guardian - UK
    9-17-3



    "The convictions come against a background of mounting concern over the emergence of a new Jewish "underground", reminiscent of settler vigilantes who attacked Palestinians in the mid-1980s."

    JERUSALEM (AP) -- A Jerusalem court yesterday convicted three Israeli settlers of attempting to blow up an Arab girls' school in Jerusalem last year to avenge Arab attacks against Jews.

    Shlomo Dvir, Yarden Morag and Ofer Gamliel, all from the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin, were convicted of attempted murder and illegal weapons possession in connection with the failed attack in the Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of A-Tur in April 2002. Sentences will be passed later.

    The convictions come against a background of mounting concern over the emergence of a new Jewish "underground", reminiscent of settler vigilantes who attacked Palestinians in the mid-1980s.

    The court found that Dvir and Morag parked an explosives-laden trailer outside the entrance to the school before dawn and set a timer for 7:25am, just as students would be arriving. The attack was aborted when a passing police cruiser became suspicious and found the trailer contained two bricks of explosives, cooking gas canisters, a clock, battery, detonator and fuse.

    Gamliel was found to have helped plan the attack.

    The judges rejected the defendants' claim that the device was for demonstration purposes, and that there was no intention of harming students.

    They said the men had meant to carry out a large-scale terror attack, to avenge Arab attacks against Jews that began with the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in September 2000.

    After the verdict was read, Morag and Dvir expressed regret for their action.

    Five men were recently arrested for allegedly plotting violence against Arabs, mostly around Hebron, where 500 Jewish settlers live in three tiny enclaves surrounded by 130,000 Palestinians. Three were freed last week.

    Palestinians say few prosecutions have resulted from nearly three years of violence, in which 2,457 people have been killed on the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side 850 people have been killed.
 
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