PA arrests, releases 150 attack suspects

Hundreds protest after W

meir chai funeral 248.88 AP (photo credit: )
meir chai funeral 248.88 AP
(photo credit: )
Palestinian Authority security forces rounded up, interrogated and released some 150 suspects in connection with Thursday's West Bank terror attack in which 45-year-old Rabbi Meir Chai was murdered, the Palestinian Authority said Friday. According to an Israel Radio report, most of the suspects were residents of Tulkarem. The radio station reported that while the bulk of the suspects were released from custody later on Friday, two of them were still being interrogated. In addition, the IDF and Shin Bet were continuing to investigate the attack which took place near the northern Samaria settlement of Shavei Shomron. Chai was buried Friday morning on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Justice Minister Yaacov Neeman, and National Union MKs Ya'akov Katz and Uri Ariel, were among those in attendance. Chai's 16-year-old son, Eliyahu, eulogized his father and urged fellow Samaria youngsters not to avenge the attack. "Dad wanted to learn Torah and pray, and if we want to perpetuate his memory, we need to do these things, not take revenge," said a tearful Eliyahu. The difference between us and them is that we are human beings, we do not just shoot them in the heads for no reason. We are Jews, holy." Yishai also spoke at the funeral, saying that "Hundreds and thousands of children are crying over the loss of the rabbi," referring to the Jewish learning institutes Chai had set up. While the removal of West Bank roadblocks was being blamed for the attack, Army Radio reported Friday that in recent months Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had turned down several requests by ministers for a cabinet debate on the matter. According to the report, one of the ministers, Yishai, had claimed that "past experience shows that the removal of roadblocks as part of the easements granted to Palestinians has led to attempts to carry out terror attacks against Jews." Following Thursday night's terror attack, hundreds of residents of Kedumim and other settlements marched from Shavei Shomron to the site of the shooting and held a prayer and protest rally. The local residents demonstrated against the decreasing number of West Bank roadblocks. One of the protesters, Menorah Hazani, accused the government of abandoning Judea and Samaria residents. "I already have several friends who are widows, and I am simply fed up of the fact that no one cares when roadblocks are removed and we pay with our lives," she told Army Radio. "We have been abandoned and the government is busy fighting settlers instead of terrorists. I don't know what the defense minister is doing, but he is certainly not handling defense." The attack broke months of relative quiet in the West Bank. Chai, a father of seven, whose children range in age from two months to 18 years, was the fourth person killed by terrorists in the West Bank this year. He was driving in his minivan on Highway 57, between Shavei Shomron and Einav, when a Palestinian car overtook him and someone in the car opened fire. Chai was hit in the head and drove off the road. According to Palestinian reports, the Imad Mughniyeh Group - named after the Hizbullah commander assassinated in Damascus two years ago - claimed responsibility for the attack. It also claimed to be affiliated with Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigade. The group said its members "withdrew from the area safely." It also warned of "a series of attacks to come." MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) blamed Netanyahu for the attack. Ben-Ari said Wednesday night that the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction and a possible prisoner exchange deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Schalit indicated that "Jewish blood has been forsaken." "Netanyahu is surrendering to terrorism," he said. Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.