The Higher Arab Follow-up Committee in Israel announced on Friday a general strike and called for public protests against the terrorist attack carried out by an Israel soldier in Shfa-Amr on Thursday evening, killing four Arab residents of Israel, and injuring 15 others.

The victims of the attack, which was carried out by a soldier-settler from Tapoah settlement, slated for evacuation, were identified as two sisters, Hazar 23, and Deena Torkey, 21, Nader Hayek, 55, and Michael Bahhouth, 56 years old.

Shfa-Amr municipality, representatives of the local and public institutions and representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths met on Thursday at night following the shooting in an attempt to calm the situation down and condemn the attack. 

Initial reports which were published following the shooting revealed that five bodies were extracted from the bus, but it later appeared that the fifth body belonged to the soldier who carried out the shooting.

The Israeli army reported that the attacker, Eden Natan-Zada, 19, recently became religious, and was an army deserter who recently moved from Rishon Letzion to the West Bank settlement of Tapuah.

In spite of the fact that Natan-Zada was known to police as a member of the outlawed far-right terrorist Kach movement and active against disengagement, he remained a soldier in the Israel army.

Also, the Israeli police arrested on Thursday and Friday three friends of the soldier on suspicion that they knew his plan to attack Arabs.

The Israeli radio reported that the three are aged between 15 and 17 years old and residents of Tapuah settlement.

Tapuah settlement is well known to the Israeli security as one of the most extreme settlements in the West bank. The settlement is dominated by followers of the US-born terrorist, Meir Kahana, who called for the expulsion of the Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian area. Kahana was assassinated in New York in 1990. 

Soldier kills four Arab residents of Israel, injures twelve

Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

Four Arab residents of Israel were killed and at least twelve others were injured, three critically, when an Israeli soldier opened fire aboard a bus in the northern Druze town of Shfa-Amr.

Two young women, an elderly man, and the bus driver were victims of the attack, which took place as the Route 165 bus drove inside the Druze town.

Magen David Adom Israeli ambulances evacuated the wounded to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, an Israeli source reported.

After the soldier killed the driver the bus rolled down and stopped at the side of the road, an Israeli source reported.

After the fatal shooting thousands of youth took to the streets and hurled stones at the Israeli police and an army special unit that arrived at the scene. 

Israeli police officers surrounded the bus to protect the attacker, but he was reportedly killed by members of the crowd.

Former Shfaram Deputy Mayor Khatem Hassoun arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting.

Hassoun said that the soldier was a ‘religious’ Jewish soldier.

“After the bus reached Sheikh Amid Farid Street, the soldier shot the driver and other passengers on board,” Hassoun said. “The bus stopped at the side of the road, while the soldier continued to fire at the passengers”.

Hassoun slammed the Israeli police for their slow response time.  

An Israeli security source reported that five policemen were injured during clashes which erupted on the scene following the shooting.

The source identified the attacker as  Eden Natan-Zada, 19, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Tapoah, and a member of the outlawed Kach Jewish terrorist movement. 

The Israeli police said that it is probing the attack, including looking into the possibility that the shooting stemmed from an argument between the soldiers and bus passengers. 

Arab member of Knesset Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Party) described the shooting as a terrorist attack against the Arab residents of Israel.

“What was a religious Jew doing on an Arab bus?” Bishara asked. “This attack must have been well planned by the assailant. I hope this is not another Baruch Goldstein.”

Arab MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash-Ta’al party) said that this was a terrorist attack carried out by a member of the Israeli extreme right wing.

“Extreme right-wing people in Israel, terrorists, who want to set the region ablaze, feel free to act in light of the political and judicial establishment, which ignores their threats,” Barakeh said.