Jerusalem – The preliminary investigation of Thursday’s terrorist attack at a Jerusalem seminary show that the Arab terrorist, Ala Abu Dheim, used to come to the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva by car and watch its routine carefully.

It appears that Mr. Abu Dheim reached the conclusion that in the evening the yeshiva is filled with people and active and that he could arrive there easily under cover of darkness.

On the evening of the attack, the terrorist set out with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, seven magazines, two handguns and a commando knife. He used his vehicle, a Ford transit van belonging to his family’s company, Pearl Transportation, which he drove in order to transport pupils from Jabel Mukaber and villages in East Jerusalem.

The terrorist parked the van two blocks from the yeshiva, hid the two handguns and commando knife on his person, cocked the Kalashnikov rifle and hid it in a television carton. At the entrance to the yeshiva, he encountered three students from its youth division, one of whom asked him jokingly, “What, you’ve brought us a television?”

The terrorist did not answer, but put the carton on the stone wall, took out the gun and fired at them. He succeeded in killing two of them, but the third escaped. Afterward, the terrorist entered the yeshiva and began firing at the students.

The Goal: A Third Palestinian Uprising?

The terror attack at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, so believe Israeli security officials, was planned and prepared prior to the most recent attacks and counterattacks in the Gaza Strip.

The timing and the location chosen were geared to have ignited a pyre on the West Bank and to have lit a third Intifada uprising that would rage in tandem with the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Prior to the terror attack, senior military officials said they believed Hamas would try to export the clashes to the West Bank.

One theory is that the planners’ expectation was that revenge attacks by Jews would be perpetrated as early as the following day, including on the Temple Mount, and then setting the West Bank in flames would be certain.

That is precisely why the army sealed off Palestinian areas immediately after the terror attack. The troops on the ground received reinforcements, and preventive arrests were carried out.

What worries Israeli security officials is that the sleeper cell that woke up last week and committed the terror attack is more than just an intelligence failure.

Israeli Army Captain: ‘I Killed The Terrorist’

On Thursday night, several seconds after he killed the terrorist, Capt. David Shapira of the Israeli Paratroopers Brigade Battalion 890, telephoned Lt. Col. Yaki. “Battalion commander,” he said, “I just finished an encounter. I killed the terrorist. I’m doing a search. I’ll talk to you in a little while.”

“I didn’t understand too much,” Lt. Col. Yaki recalled. “I got that it was the incident at the yeshiva, because I saw on television that it was near his home. No more than that.”

Afterward, when he was back home, Capt. Shapira telephoned the battalion commander and told him what he had done. “He heard shots. At first he thought they were firecrackers for Purim,” Lt. Col. Yaki said. “Very quickly he realized, because of his sharp hearing, that they were gunshots. He took his gun out of the closet and ran outside. …

“He ran inside to look for the terrorist. He realized it was the library. He knows the place, so he knew where to go. He outflanked the terrorist and went toward a door where he could see him and shot him standing up. Sixteen bullets. After he finished, he took the police officers and went around with them. They searched the place.”

Survivor: ‘The Terrorist Put His Gun Right Up Against My Head’

Elhanan and Neria were cousins who dreamed of going to yeshiva and studying Torah. The both found themselves in the midst of the horrific massacre in the yeshiva library on Thursday evening. The one cousin was shot dead and the other, in a moment of resourcefulness, succeeded in pushing the terrorist’s rifle barrel away and fled from the library at the last moment to safety.

“I’m pained by Neria’s murder. His death is difficult for me,” Elhanan said over the weekend.

Elhanan, 15, told his relatives: “He shot in all directions. Some of the boys were hurt and others tried to run away and got injured. He came up to me and pointed his gun at my head. I pushed the barrel away when he fired. The barrel was hot and gave me a burn. The terrorist failed to shoot me. I exploited the opportunity and fled outside.”

Only later did Elhanan discover that his cousin, 14-year-old Neria, had been murdered by the terrorist. Elhanan was discharged from the hospital this weekend. On Saturday he went to synagogue and said Birkat Hagomel (a prayer traditionally said after safely avoiding danger).

Worker Treated The Injured, Unaware That Grandson Was Dead

When Malka Zuckerman heard about the massacre at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, she didn’t hesitate for a moment. She grabbed her phosphorescent yellow social worker vest and raced to the scene of the attack. She wanted to help the injured but didn’t know that among the dead was her own grandson, 15-year-old Segev Pneiel Avihail.

Ms. Zuckerman treated the survivors, unaware that she had suffered a personal tragedy of her own. When her fellow social workers learned that Ms. Zuckerman’s beloved grandson’s name was on the list of the dead, they took her aside and told her the terrible news.

“Malka was always afraid that the terror attacks in Jerusalem would hurt her or her family,” said an acquaintance from the municipality. “Unfortunately, this time it reached her.”

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.