Jewish terror suspects are still at large in the West Bank, defense officials said Monday, a day after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed that it had arrested an American-born settler who was allegedly behind two murders and a series of attacks against homosexuals, police, messianic Jews and a left-wing academic.
Ya'acov "Jack" Teitel was arrested last month by the Shin Bet for allegedly killing two Palestinians in 1997 and carrying out a series of bombing attacks.
According to security sources, there are other unsolved murder cases in the West Bank since the beginning of the second intifada that have been attributed to Jewish terrorist elements. Officials would not give exact numbers, but said there were several unsolved murders as well as dozens of unsolved acts of violence against Palestinians.
The Shin Bet would not say whether this represented the existence of a Jewish underground, and raised the possibility that a few lone attackers, like Teitel, were behind the attacks.
"A lone attacker is the most difficult to apprehend," one security official said Monday. "They don't talk to anyone, and work alone without any outside assistance."
Ironically, A., the current head of the Shin Bet Jewish Department, which is responsible for preventing Jewish terrorism, lives in a West Bank settlement. He is said to be a responsible and well-trained operative who climbed the ranks in the department before his appointment.
According to Yitzhak Pantik, a former head of the department, the assumption within the defense establishment was that there were additional Jewish terrorists on the loose.
"We operate within a political framework, and due to issues like negotiations with the Palestinians and the status of the Temple Mount, we should assume that there are people who think that violence is the only way," he said.
The Jewish Department operates agents throughout the country. It plants agents inside organizations and some of the more radical settlements and outposts to help uncover potential terror plots. The focus of the department appears to be in the West Bank.
"We work to obtain intelligence to prevent attacks," Pantik said. "We use agents, technology and sometimes a combination of both."
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