Jewish Man Kills Four Arab Workers in Shomron

A Jewish man from Binyamin opened fire upon Arab workers at the entrance to the Shilo industrial zone Wednesday afternoon, killing four.

Ezra HaLevi and Yehudit Halfon, | updated: 18:25

Asher Weisgan, a 38-year-old father of two, worked as a driver transporting the Arab workers to and from work every day. They were in his car Wednesday afternoon, on their way out of the aluminum factory at which they worked, when Weisgan stopped at the guard booth to get their ID cards upon leaving Shilo's industrial area.

Reports differ as to what happened next. First reports state that Weisgan grabbed the security guard's gun after distracting him, and shot the Arabs in his vehicle. Shilo's local security officer said, however, that Weisgan used his own weapon to carry out the attack. In any event, he then ran back into the industrial area and shot another Arab worker near the aluminum factory in which he worked.

Four of the workers died immediately, and the two injured were taken to a Jerusalem hospital in the ambulance of the community of Shilo.

The motive for the crime was not immediately clear. Weisgan, a fluent Arabic speaker, worked with the men he killed for years, had been to their homes in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, and had even eaten lunch together with them earlier Wednesday. Weisgan is a non-observant Jew who resides in the town of Shvut Rachel, 20 miles of North Jerusalem. His family says he never attended rallies or was interested in Israeli politics.

On the other hand, Israel Radio reported that on the way into his remand hearing at the Petah Tikvah Magistrates Court, Weisgan said he carried out the shooting to stop the Disengagement Plan. "I'm not sorry for what I did," Weisgan told reporters, adding that he hopes that someone kills Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Police, army and local community security forces are wary of possible violent Arab reactions to the shooting. Hamas quickly promised that the killings would not go unpunished.