Palestinian doctor, kin shot on West Bank Zionist group takes blame for attack


JERUSALEM -- An Arab doctor was shot and seriously wounded on Thursday night as he was traveling in a car with his sister and her baby 10 miles south of here in the occupied West Bank, the police and the army said yesterday.

An unknown group called the Zionist Avengers called the Israeli army radio and the state television offices and claimed responsibility for the attack, the Israeli radio reported.

The attack occurred a day after the early release of three of the last imprisoned members of a 25-member Jewish underground that attacked and killed Arab civilians and dignitaries in the early 1980s.

Yesterday, both the Israeli left and right condemned the shooting, and Defense Minister Moshe Arens pledged to catch the assailant and try him.

Dr. Feisel Amar, 40, who was shot in the chest and legs, was listed in serious condition at Hadassah hospital, hospital officials said.

Around 11:15 p.m., Dr. Amar was returning home to Hebron along with his sister, Ibtisam, and her 1-year-old daughter, Aya. He had just taken his wife to a Bethlehem hospital, where she gave birth to a baby girl, Palestinians said.

Near a junction by the Jewish settlement of Efrat, a man in an Israeli army uniform and wearing a small yarmulke opened fire at them, Palestinians said.

Aya, the daughter, was slightly wounded from a gunshot to the leg, while her mother had a small wound in her hand, hospital officials said.

The police and the army immediately began widespread searches.

While condemning the attack, Elyakim Haetzni, a member of parliament from the right-wing Tehiya Party, said it was a result of the army's inability to suppress the three-year Arab uprising in the occupied territories.

The three Jewish underground members released on Wednesday served 7 years of their sentences of 20 years to life imprisonment. President Chaim Herzog pardoned many of the other members of the underground and several times reduced the sentences of the three.

"The release of the underground murderers had to encourage more murderers," said Yossi Sarid, of the leftist Citizens' Rights Movement.

[According to Reuters, dovish Israelis said the prisoners' early release and lack of remorse could fuel further vigilante attacks by hard-liners demanding a crackdown on a three-year-old Palestinian uprising.

["We are receiving as heroes men who murdered innocent people in cold blood. What's so surprising if other people want the same status as heroes," Mr. Sarid told Israel Radio.

["The release of the underground murderers had to encourage more murderers," he said.

[Leaders of Jewish settlers rushed to play down the attack as the work of individuals, not a group. They denied it signaled the emergence of a new Jewish underground.

["Don't lose proportion. There is no new underground, even if there are other acts like this," said Aharon Domb, a resident of the Kiryat Arba settlement next to Hebron.

[But he added: "The reasons that apparently led the people to do what they did are the same reasons that led to the underground against Arab leaders in that Arab terrorism has not been stopped."]

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