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      Arab, Dressed as Jewish Hitchhiker, Murders Four

      An Arab terrorist of Fatah's Al-Aksa Brigade, dressed as a Jewish hitchhiker, blew himself up inside the car of those who picked him up near Kedumim, in Samaria - murdering four Jews.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 3/31/2006, 10:48 AM / Last Update: 3/30/2006, 11:21 PM


      The attack took place shortly before 10 PM near the gas station and hitchhiking station adjacent to the town of Kedumim. Details of the attack were a while in coming because of the flames that engulfed the car, which burned for close to an hour before anyone was allowed to go near it. Identifying the victims was therefore a difficult task.

      It was later learned that the car had four occupants - the owners, Rafi and Helena HaLevy, both 60, of Kedumim; Reut Feldman, 20, from Herzliya; and Shaked Lasker, 16 - in addition to the terrorist. The murderer, who was dressed as a religious Jew, apparently entered the car near Karnei Shomron, possibly together with the other two 'trempistim' [hitch-hikers], and the car drove east towards Kedumim.

      Just outside Kedumim, the terrorist detonated his explosive, which was estimated at 10 kilograms, and all inside were killed instantly. Rafaela Segal, a resident of Kedumim said, "I live opposite the gas station, and at 9:45, we heard a tremendous explosion; the walls shook... We saw a car burning." Pieces of the car flew dozens of meters from the force of the blast.


      A Kedumim resident who was driving a car behind them later said, "I saw the car veer strangely, then stop abruptly, and then, within seconds, there was a tremendous explosion." Another neighbor said that the HaLevys had acted heroically, refusing to drive the car into the community when they understood the terrorist's intentions. "They bodily prevented many other people from being killed," she said.

      Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss, one of the first leaders of the Shomron settlement enterprise, said, "The terrorists received a boost of encouragement from the expulsion of Jews and from our run-away from our homeland. But they won't succeed; we won't break." She also said that Israel treats the terrorists too lightly: "We have to hit them in a way that will not let them lift their heads."

      A spokesman for the PA's new Hamas government called the attack a "natural response ... to the continued Israeli killing, incursions and arrests." Another spokesman said it was in retaliation for the artillery fire into Gaza following the Kassams.

      Israeli security officials have said all week that they have received close to 80 warnings of impending terror attacks. David Baker, a spokesman for the prime minister's bureau, said, "The Palestinians continue to remain totally indifferent and are not preventing terror attacks" - a non-sequitur of sorts, in that the Hamas remains committed to fighting and destroying Israel as a Jewish state. Many Hamas leaders said as much after their government was sworn in on Wednesday.

      A wanted terrorist was arrested near Kedumim several hours before the attack, and another terrorist was caught with a large explosive on his person the day before, just 25 kilometers (15 miles) to the east.

      The Victims of the Terror Attack
      * Rafael and Helena HaLevy lived in Kedumim for some 15 years. They were among the first to move into the neighborhood of Karmei Kedem, having arrived from Kfar Gideon near Afula. Rafi served originally as Kedumim's security officer, and later as the town gardener, while Helena - who immigrated to Israel from Brazil at the age of 18 - ran a day care center. They are survived by four children and three grandchildren, and will be buried in Kedumim on Sunday.
      * Reut Feldman, 20, from Herzliya, was doing her second year of volunteer national service at the local emergency center. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3:30 in Herzliya.
      * Shaked Lasker, 16, of Kedumim, studying in 10th grade. His funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3:30 in Kedumim.

      Israel Air Force planes and IDF artillery gunners struck Gaza early Friday morning, hitting several sites used by terrorists to fire rockets into Israel. Halil Al-Koka, a leading wanted Palestinian terrorist in Gaza who headed the Military Wing of the Resistance Committees, was killed.

      One of the two Kassam rockets fired at Israel from Gaza on Thursday landed south of Ashkelon in Karmiyah, temporary home to dozens of families of Gush Katif expellees. One man was treated for shock, and a car and a basketball court were damaged. PA policemen who were in the area of the rocket launching, but did nothing to stop it, were warned by Israel to leave the area so that Israeli artillery could be fired to the launching spot.

      Another Kassam was fired Friday, causing no damage. Palestinian terrorists threw a small bomb at an Israeli car in western Binyamin, between Dolev and Talmon, on Thursday. No one was hurt, but two other bombs were found in a search of the area this morning, and were blown up in a controlled manner by IDF sappers.