JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife)– Israel has charged a Jewish-American extremist with shooting to death two Palestinians and trying to kill others, including a Messianic Jewish family, who received a booby-trapped package in March 2008 that left their son critically injured.
Jack [Yaakov] Teitel walked, smiling, into the courtroom, last week where he raised his manacled hands and flashed a “V for victory” sign at news cameras before listening to the charges against him.
Among several attacks, Teitel is charged with sending a gift basket around the annual Purim festival to the Ortiz family in the Israeli town of Ariel. When Ami Ortiz, then 15, opened the basket, it exploded and he was severely wounded.
Family members said the blast severed two toes, damaged his hearing and eyesight, and seemed to have harmed a promising basketball career. He was reportedly covered with blood, burns and full of the needles and screws contained in the bomb when he was rushed to hospital. Doctors even reported that his “spirit is leaving the body,” but were apparently stunned that he survived.
BACK AT SCHOOL
Twenty months later, he is back at school and playing basket ball, his family said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Sunday, November 15. The explosion was linked to Teitel’s apparent anger that the Ortiz family believe Jesus is the Messiah as promised by Jewish prophets in the Bible.
Ami’s father, David Ortiz, has reportedly said he hopes one day to sit down with confessed killer Jack Teitel and talk. “There is something inside him that makes him want to kill people. If God has mercy on me, maybe he’ will have mercy on others.”
He described the attack on his son as “the first time” in Israel’s history that a Jew had placed a bomb outside the home of a fellow Jew to cause serious bodily harm. “We must understand that there are people out there who will take these sorts of actions, and they must be stopped,” Ortiz said in published remarks.
Ami Ortiz did not reveal what he would say to his attacker if he faced him, but his mother, Leah, had an answer: “I would tell him, you didn’t get what you wanted, we won, in the end we won.”
NO ARMY SERVICE?
He reportedly said he isn’t sure if he will be able to serve in the Israeli army, because he may be rendered physically unfit. If given the choice, the teenager said he would volunteer for combat service, just like his father did, The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.
The attack came amid growing pressure on Messianic Jews, with reports that some of their churches have been attacked by Orthodox groups and extremists opposing the spread of Christianity in the Jewish state of Israel.
Before the blast in 2008, Teitel also allegedly murdered two Palestinians in Hebron in 1997. He also planted a pipe bomb in the house of Hebrew University professor Ze’ev Sternhell in September 2008, according to prosecutors. Sternhell, a longtime Peace Now activist, was lightly wounded in the leg.
According to the indictment filed in Jerusalem district court this week, the 37-year-old Teitel sought to avenge the deaths of Israelis killed by Palestinian militants.
TEITEL “NO REGRETS”
Jack Teitel told reporters at a Jerusalem court that he had no regrets for shooting the pair and trying to kill the others with explosives and poison, and that God would approve of his actions.
“It has been a pleasure and an honor to have served my God,” said Teitel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew originally from the U.S. state of Florida. Teitel faces up to life in prison if convicted for murder.
No date was immediately set for the beginning of the trial.
An attorney representing the families of victims allegedly harmed by Teitel has announced he will also file a civil suit against him, demanding 4 million Israel New Shekels (over $1 million) in damages for his clients.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Yossi Graiver as saying that the families decided to file the suit “in order to do some sort of justice to the pain that they have suffered due to these attacks,” including many operations to restore the health of Ortiz. (With reporting from Israel and by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos)