Eight years after Hebron massacre, another Goldstein plots Florida remake
JERUSALEM (AFP) - They share the same profession, the
same nationality and even the same name. Before his arrest in
Florida, Robert Goldstein was about to follow in the footsteps of
Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Muslims in a Hebron
mosque eight years ago.
Parallel pictures of the two Goldsteins were splashed across the daily Maariv's
centre-spread and most Israeli newspapers drew a parallel between the two Jewish
extremists in their Sunday editions.
Doctor Robert Goldstein, 37, was arrested by US security services Friday on
suspicion of planning to bomb mosques and Islamic centres, after a huge arsenal of
around 40 weapons and 30 explosive devices was found at his Florida home.
A typed list of approximately 50 Islamic places of worship in the Tampa and St.
Petersburg areas was also found, and the doctor was still being questioned Sunday.
On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein sprayed automatic gunfire on worshippers
praying in a mosque in the Cave of the Patriarchs, a holy site in both Islam and
Judaism, killing 29 Muslims before being lynched.
An American who lived in a Jewish settlement in the heart of the southern West Bank
city of Hebron, Goldstein went on his suicidal shooting spree in a bid to avenge the
victims of Palestinians attacks.
However many more Israelis were to die in the following months during a wave of
revenge bombings by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The 1994 massacre was widely condemned in Israel, but a minority of extremist
Jewish settlers have since turned Baruch Goldstein into an icon of their struggle
against the Arabs.
His tomb became a pilgrimage destination for some far-right supporters, and a book
singing his praise and written by an extremist rabbi has been circulating on the black
Baruch Goldstein's grave was symbolically dug at the entrance of the Kiryat Arba
settlement near Hebron, at the end of Meir Kahana street, named after the founder of
the anti-Arab Kach party, who was himself assassinated in New York.
Following the 1994 massacre, Kach was officially outlawed over charges of incitement
to racial hatred, but its militants have continued to be openly active, calling for
Palestinians to be expelled from the entire "land of Israel", including the West Bank,
and accusing successive Israeli governments of weakness or even treason.
Only after a group of Jewish extremists close to the Kach party were caught on April
30 preparing an anti-Palestinian attack near a school did the police carry out some
A few weeks earlier, a bomb attack which had also targeted a Palestinian school in
east Jerusalem had been claimed by an underground extreme-right group.
Bloodshed was averted when two other bombs were defused on the same site, while a
fourth one was also discovered nearby.
Since the intifada erupted on September 28, at least 12 Palestinians have been killed
by Jewish extremists, B'Tselem said, adding that in most cases the killers were not
Official Israeli reports have expressed concern at the impunity of some of the most militant settlers, especially those in Hebron.