Four Israeli Arabs have been killed and 10 wounded in a shooting rampage by a Jewish extremist. The attack appears connected to Israel's upcoming pullout from the Gaza Strip.
A 19-year-old deserted Israeli soldier opened fire inside a bus in the Arab town of Shfaram in northern Israel.
"He was armed with an assault rifle and began shooting in all directions," an eyewitness told Israel Television.
An angry mob then bludgeoned the attacker to death. The windows of the bus were shattered, and blood covered the floor and seats.
The gunman was identified as Eden Natan-Zada. The army said he left his unit without permission several weeks ago because he did not want to take part in the Gaza pullout, which is due to begin in two weeks. He was spending time at the radical West Bank settlement of Tapuach which follows the teachings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. The rabbi believed that all Arabs should be expelled from the Biblical land of Israel.
Israeli officials have been warning for months that Jewish militants might attack Arabs in a last ditch attempt to thwart the pullout. Such attacks have the potential to spark riots that would divert security forces from the task of evacuating the Gaza settlements.
Israeli Arab parliamentarian Azmi Bashara said the attack is just the "tip of the iceberg."
"There are organized groups out to attack Arabs," Mr. Bashara told Israel TV. And the Israeli government, he said, is allowing them to operate and carry weapons.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described the bus attack as "a despicable act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist."