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Police investigating the sending of a package which exploded in the home of a Christian pastor in Ariel are leaning toward the theory that a Jewish anti-missionary was behind the attack, the preacher told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
David Oritz's 16-year-old son, Ami, sustained serious injuries in the blast, after opening the package, which was made to look like a Purim gift.
"They [the police], as far as I understand, do not suspect Palestinian terrorism. They suspect a Jewish anti-missionary motive," Oritz told the Post by phone from his Ariel home, minutes after returning from the hospital.
"At the start of the investigation, they went in the direction of Palestinian terrorism. Now they're going in the other direction," he added.
Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Dani Poleg said he could not comment on the investigation due to a court-imposed media blackout, in force since Friday.
Ami's life was no longer in danger, his father said, but he was still suffering from serious injuries all over his body.
"His neck had an eight-inch [20-cm.] gash like someone slit his throat. He has a ruptured lung. Doctors had to operate on his tongue. He has second-degree burns to his chest and arms, and there is no flesh on the thighs," Oritz said, adding that doctors were forced to amputate two toes. "They're trying to continue to make sure that he won't lose his arms and legs. His whole body is full of fragments of shrapnel," he said.
Oritz described the moments after the explosion when the teenager's mother, Leah, "saw flames coming out of the windows after going downstairs to throw out the garbage." After running upstairs, Leah saw "her son on the floor. She held his neck and she kept the wound closed with her hands." Using her paramedic training, "she made a hole so he could breathe. Then the ambulance driver who arrived kept him alive. When we got to hospital, he was operated on in five places," Oritz said, adding that he considered his son's recovery to be "a miracle." Oritz's Jewish-born wife, Leah, is a member of Jews for Jesus. The pastor says dozes of families in Ariel have been influenced by his teachings. "We have about 50 families," he declared.
He described a long history of tensions with anti-missionary activists in Ariel, which included flyers and a petition calling for the family to leave the city.
"My neighbor said he had been told by religious Jews that if we were the only ones living in this building, they would have bombed it," Oritz said. "When we first came into this town, the rabbi visited us and told me I was not allowed to talk about Yeshua [Jesus] outside of my apartment. I told him that as far I know, this is not a crime in this country. This is a democratic country, people can say whatever they want outside their house," Oritz said.
"They put posters all over town warning residents to keep away from us and calling for us to be excommunicated, and there was a demonstration in front of our house. If all my neighbors had signed the petition calling on us to leave, I would have to leave by law. Some of my neighbors refused to sign," he added.
Four of Oritz's children have completed their military service in the IDF, he said. "I have served in the reserves for 15 years. I was shot at and stoned in Nablus. All of my children went to school here, they are normal children, we are normal people. Ami is the captain of his school basketball team."
Rabbi Dov Lifshitz, chairman of the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization, said he doubted that Jews were behind the bombing.
"Someone who thinks logically will not do this. It just harms the struggle. I'm sure this is not connected to the anti-missionary cause," he told the Post.
If the culprit is Jewish, the bomber "is either crazy or does not understand the struggle," Lifshitz added.
He estimated that Christian missionaries have succeeded in converting around 15,000 Jews to Christianity in Israel, adding that the missionaries target those "without defense - people ignorant of Judaism, such as Russian immigrants, and the lonely. This is why they succeeded, in a Jewish state, unbelievably. They have 120 branches in Israel," he said, blaming the Jewish Agency and the government for failing to provide a Jewish education to new immigrants.
"We are now pushing for legislation that would make it illegal for members of any religion to try and convert others to their faith," Lifshitz said. "Our struggle isn't against anyone. What we're saying is, we are Jews. Let us be Jews. Christians should remain Christians. In our 50 years of activity, we've never had any violence. We have a big argument with messianic Jews, but that doesn't include violence," Lifshitz said.