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Eight Killed in Terrorist Attack at Jerusalem Yeshiva

By Ha'aretz,, VOA News &

Eight people were killed and six others wounded Thursday evening when a terrorist infiltrated a Jerusalem yeshiva and opened fire. (Editor's Note: Related article "War game scenario: How one rocket could start the next Middle East war" can be found on our web site at

Three of the wounded in the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood were serious condition and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem. The others were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center. One of the wounded is 15 years old.

Jerusalem District police chief Aharon Franco said the terrorist entered the religious school, pulled out an automatic weapon from his bag and began firing in all directions. An Israel Defense Forces paratrooper who had his weapon with him engaged the terrorist in a gun battle, and two police detectives who arrived on the scene also fired at the assailant. The terrorist was killed in the incident.

An organization calling itself "Galilee Freedom Brigades - the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh" took responsibility for the attack, according to Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV station. The veracity of the claim was not clear. Hizbullah had vowed to avenge last month's assassination of its terror chief, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus. The organization blamed Israel for his death, but Israel denied any role in the killing.

While Israeli security sources could not immediately verify the claim, according to one source speaking to WND from the scene of the bloody attack, the ID of an Israeli-Arab from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jable al-Mujabre was found inside the yeshiva.

Some media reports described the Freedom Brigades of the Galilee as an unknown group. But the terrorist organization is well known to Israeli security forces, which believed they cracked down on the organization two years ago. Based largely in northern Israel, the Freedom Brigades, which says it consists entirely of Israeli Arabs, previously carried out several shooting attacks in the Israeli north in 2004 and 2005, including the fatal shooting of Israeli soldier Oleg Sheichig.

Security officials believe the group coordinated its attacks and the building of its infrastructure with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization.

Mughniyah led Hizbullah's "international terror branch," orchestrating attacks against foreign targets, according to Israeli security officials. He was widely considered Nasrallah's successor. Mughniyah was accused of helping to plan the 1983 Marine barracks attack in which 300 were killed and also the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut the same year, killing 63 people.

He was responsible for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA passenger jet and the murder of one of its passengers, a soldier in the U.S. Navy. Mughniyah was indicted for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killing 85 people. A warrant was issued for his arrest for the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in which 29 people died. Argentinean officials have publicly pointed a finger at Iran for aiding in those attacks.

Also, serving as commander of Islamic Jihad in the 1980s, Mughniyah was accused of kidnapping dozens of Western hostages, including Americans, killing some of them, such as the CIA's Middle East station chief.

According to foreign press reports, the Mossad reportedly tried to assassinate Mughniyah in a complex operation in southern Beirut in the 1990s. Mughniyah reportedly lived a secretive life, routinely switching between locations in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. He is thought to have undergone multiple plastic surgeries and changed identities numerous times

A large number of security and emergency medical personnel rushed to the scene of the shooting, which took place in the crowded yeshiva library. Some 50 ambulances were also summoned. "[The terrorist] fired 500-600 bullets," Michael, a student who was in the yeshiva, told Israel's Channel 2 television. Michael, who would not give his last name, said most of those injured and killed were teenagers.

Police and Israel Defense Forces troops searched the complex and the surrounding area for nearly two hours in order to determine whether a second or possibly third terrorist was still holed up inside the yeshiva or had fled. The evacuation of the dead and wounded was delayed due to the searches.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. However, a statement from the ruling Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip praised the attack, saying it would not be the last. A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry says the attack was designed to derail peace talks, but that the talks would continue.

Mark Regev a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says terrorist attacks like the one Thursday evening do not help the peace process. "As much as my country and my government wants to move forward in peace with Palestinians, Hamas and the other extremists are the greatest single problem in moving forward in peace," said Regev. "There cannot be a peace process as long as people do not stand up and oppose this sort of extremism, hatred and bloodshed."

The part-time yeshiva student who killed the terrorist, 40-year-old Yitzchak Dadon, said that he shot the attacker in the head with his personal weapon. David Shapira, a yeshiva graduate and officer in the paratroopers, heard the shots from his nearby home, ran to the yeshiva and "finished [the terrorist] off." Asked by a reporter what weapon the Palestinian Authority terrorist had, Dadon said, "A Kalachnikov," and turning to the camera, he angrily added, "The Kalachnikov that you gave him, President Peres.."

In Gaza City, Arab residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration of the attack against the Jews of Jerusalem. Police forces have been increased throughout the capital and placed on heightened alert around the country.

Thursday's attack appeared to be carefully targeted. The yeshiva is closely linked with the Jewish settler movement in the West Bank, and many settler leaders have studied there. Witnesses say many of the students at the seminary are on active military duty and are armed, and that the attacker was killed by such a student, possibly saving the lives of many others

While Abbas was quick to condemn the deadly shooting massacre, news websites affiliated with Abbas' Fatah organization labeled the attack heroic. "In a heroic act of martyrdom, at least one hero infiltrated a Zionist school in occupied Jerusalem," stated the beginning of a news dispatch on Fatah's Firas Press website translated by WND.

"President Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attack in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of many Israelis, and he reiterated his condemnation of all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinians or Israelis," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters..

Meanwhile, the Fatah-affiliated news websites were brimming with congratulatory nods to Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades for the attack, even though the Brigades did not claim responsibility for the mass shooting. Most talkbacks were signed by Palestinians in the West Bank. Talkbacks on PalPress included: "Kol Hakavod" - Hebrew for "More honor to you." "We bless you for the attacks."; "Allah is great."; "The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are the heroes."; "Allah bless the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.";" We strengthen Al Aqsa and we ask them for more."

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