yaacov teitel 248.88.
(photo credit: Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency))
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police have arrested an American-born Jewish settler who is allegedly behind an unprecedented series of deadly terror shootings and bombings spanning over a decade, in which two Palestinians were killed and Israel Prize Laureate Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell was injured. According to the Shin Bet, he also planted a bomb at the entrance to house of a messianic family in Ariel, seriously wounding their son, then-15-year-old Ami Ortiz.
Yaakov "Jack" Teitel, 37, was arrested by the Israel Police's elite counter-terror unit YAMAM on October 7th as he was hanging flyers in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof in support of the attack on a Tel Aviv gay and lesbian youth club in August in which two people were killed. Teitel, the Shin Bet said, was not the gunman in that attack.
Teitel, the father of four from the settlement of Shevut Rahel, came to Israel in 1997 and allegedly succeeded in smuggling a pistol into Israel aboard a British Airways flight. The Shin Bet says the gun was used to kill an east Jerusalem cab driver on June 8, 1997 and two months later to shoot and kill a Palestinian shepherd near the settlement of Carmel in the Southern Hebron Hills.
Teitel then left Israel for Florida and returned three years later in 2000. According to the Shin Bet he was wanted at the time by American authorities for his alleged involvement in violent criminal activity in the US.
"He was a lone attacker," a senior Shin Bet official said when explaining why it took some 12 years since the first attack to arrest Teitel, who has a degree in business and made a living by developing websites.
Teitel, officials said, was an "autodidact" when it came to weapons expertise. In addition to the gun smuggled by air, Teitel is alleged also smuggled another nine automatic machine guns and pistols into Israel hidden in a shipping container. His father, who now lives in the settlement of Beitar Illit, served for many years as a dentist in the US Marines and officials said it was possible that Teitel learned about weapons and explosives during his time on military bases.
"He is an autodidact when it came to using weapons and assembling bombs," the Shin Bet official said. "They were not the most advanced devices but they were pretty sophisticated and deadly."
Teitel was actually arrested by police and the Shin Bet upon his return to Israel in 2000 based on intelligence they had obtained indicating that he was behind the 1997 shootings. The police released him after they could not find evidence to support the intelligence. For this reason, Teitel was allowed to continue to receive an official license to carry a pistol which was discovered loaded and on him when he was arrested last month.
Officials said that Teitel was extremely cautious and did not share his attacks with anyone including his wife. As an example, police said that he was nabbed in Har Nof last month hanging flyers while wearing thick gloves in order to not leave a fingerprint. However, he had been under surveillance for a period of time before then.
During his interrogations, Teitel confessed to a long list of shooting and bombing attacks. The first two attacks were the shootings in 1997. In November 2006, he planted a bomb inside a police station in the settlement of Eli. The bomb was discovered and dismantled but the Shin Bet official said that "it was sophisticated" and had it gone off "people would have been killed."
He said he carried out the coming attack to try and deter police from providing security for a scheduled gay pride rally in Jerusalem later that month.
In April 2007, Teitel allegedly planted a bomb next to the Beit Jamal Monastery near Beit Shemesh. A Palestinian driving a tractor set off the bomb and was injured. Teitel told his interrogators that he planted the device since he heard that the monastery was seducing Jewish children with candies.
Teitel confessed to planting another bomb in the Jerusalem neighborhood Ramot near a police car on May 15, 2007. The bomb exploded but no one was injured. A month later he allegedly planted another bomb on the side of a road near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and detonated it as a police car passed by. No one was injured.
Teitel, officials said, made the explosive devices in a room in his family's home in Shevut Rahel. He hid the weapons cache near his home and hid another gun near the settlement of Adei Ad.
He confessed to planting a bomb on March 20, 2008 at the entrance to the Ortiz family home in Ariel, who he believed were messianic Jews and were trying to convert Jews to Christianity.
On September 25, 2008, Teitel planed a bomb at the entrance to the home of Sternhell in Jerusalem, which went off and injured the well-known academic. He said he decided to target Sternhell since he understood that the professor had called to kill Jewish settlers.
He also confessed to stabbing an Arab youth in 1997 in Independence Park since he thought he was gay.
Officials said that Teitel was in the midst of planning additional attacks but would not specify against whom.
In the arms cache found near his house, police discovered a sophisticated sniper rifle, an M15 machine gun, an M16 shortened automatic rifle, a Glock pistol as well as a Browning 9mm. The gun that he said he smuggled into Israel aboard a British Airways flight and was used in the 1997 murders was not discovered by police. He said he hid it next to the Sha'are Zedek hospital in Jerusalem and despite extensive searches it was not found.
While police do not have the murder weapon, they said that Teitel confessed to the murders, reenacted them and knew details that only the murderer could have known.