A soldier from a Jewish settlement has shot dead four people on a bus in a northern Israeli-Arab town before being beaten to death by crowds who hadgathered around the vehicle.
The four dead are Arab as are most of the 20 or so others injured.
The teenage attacker is believed to be an ultra-nationalist who deserted from the army in protest against Israel´s pull out from Gaza.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Higal Salmor echoed the government’s forthright condemnation of the attack at Shfaram. “Terror is terror, a terrorist is a terrorist. He should be treated as such and I am sure the police force and the security forces will do whatever is needed to prevent these things from happening again.”
Palestinian minister of Planning Ghassan al-Khatib blamed engrained Israeli prejudice for the killings: “This barbaric incident in which an Israeli soldier opened fire at a crowd of people just because they are Arabs and Palestinians is a reflection of the racist education that is filling Israeli society.”
Israeli Arabs are expected to hold a strike on Friday in protest at the attack: the minority makes up about a fifth of the population.
Israeli security forces say the shooting is an isolated incident. Prime Mininster Ariel Sharon described it as a “sinful act by a bloodthirsty terrorist.”