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Shlomo Baum; Founded Israeli Military Unit

January 18, 1999|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Shlomo Baum, a founder of a feared Israeli commando unit and a noted right-wing activist, died in Jerusalem on Sunday, Israel TV reported. He was 70.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Baum was one of the founders of the 101 unit, which carried out bloody reprisal raids in Jordanian-held territory in the 1950s. The unit was led by Ariel Sharon, now Israel's foreign minister.

Baum lived in the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor, and was noted for his shaved head, muscular physique and a talent for a controversial turn of phrase.

Baum boasted that he always kept his pistol loaded. "I don't need police protection," he said. "I will shoot anyone who tries to attack me, straight between the eyes."

He would pose for photos walking through the neighborhood accompanied by one or more of his fierce attack dogs.

Baum was based in Jerusalem, but he also spent time on settlements in occupied lands to publicize the settlers' cause. He was a staunch opponent of territorial compromise.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Baum as "defining the image of the modern Jewish warrior," and commended his "bone-deep love of the land and of Jerusalem."

Burial was planned today in Jerusalem.

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