JERUSALEM — Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a founder of the Jewish settlement movement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, went on trial Monday on charges that he killed a Palestinian shopkeeper a year ago.
Levinger, spiritual leader of the settler movement Gush Emunim, or Faith Bloc, pleaded innocent to manslaughter charges in the death of Kayed Salah, 42, in the West Bank town of Hebron on Sept. 30, 1988.
The indictment charges that after reporting at an army post that his car was stoned, Levinger returned to Hebron and opened fire on Salah at a distance of 12 yards. Levinger has said he fired in the air during the stoning to defend himself.
Before the 30-minute court session, Levinger and a group of supporters demonstrated outside the home of Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini, shouting that Husseini should be detained as "the biggest terrorist" in the West Bank.
During the protest, Levinger handed Husseini a copy of a fake identity card drawn up by the settlers that gave his occupation as "terrorist."
Husseini was freed by the government last January after spending most of the past 20 months in jail. He was held without charge or trial under Israel's administrative detention regulations.
Meanwhile, two Palestinians died of gunshot wounds suffered in clashes with Israeli forces, and a third, suspected of collaborating with Israel, died of injuries from a beating by fellow Arabs.