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Second soldier detained in connection with Hebron shooting

January 2, 1997

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A second Israeli soldier was detained Thursday on suspicion that he knew of plans by off-duty Pvt. Noam Friedman to open fire on Palestinians in a crowded Hebron market.

Friedman, 22, said he acted alone in planning and carrying out Wednesday’s shooting in which five Palestinians were injured. He said he hoped to hamper Israel’s planned pullout from most of the West Bank city.

``I acted alone. It was my decision,″ he said after a judge in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva ordered him held for 10 days while charges are prepared. Asked about suspected accomplice Yuval Jibli, Friedman said: ``I have no idea why he was arrested.″

Jibli, a 21-year-old private who served with Friedman on a logistics base near Jerusalem, was brought before the same court and ordered held for four days while police investigate allegations of conspiracy and ``non-prevention of a crime.″

Jibli, who like Friedman wore the black skullcap of Orthodox Jews, denied any wrongdoing.

``I am innocent. I made no conspiracy. It’s all lies and deceit,″ he told reporters, burying his face in his sweater as he left the court.

Jibli’s mother, Aviva, told Channel 2 TV that her son did not return to his Jerusalem home from his base Wednesday night, and in the morning ``they called us and said he was arrested.″

She said her son knew Friedman, who had visited their home once. But she insisted that ``Yuval is a regular boy, not an extremist. He is against these things. I don’t believe he could be an accomplice to such a thing. We are shocked, simply shocked.″

Friedman’s grandmother, Esther Reiss, said her grandson was ``educated in an open, liberal home (to be) tolerant of any view and religion.″

``I don’t know what happened to him.″

But others said Friedman had shown signs of instability.

A rabbi who taught at Friedman’s yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, said that a few months ago Friedman started showing signs of ``strange behavior.″ Rabbi Elisha Vishlitsky said Friedman began to speak of having divine revelations and was expelled with a recommendation to seek psychiatric help.

The army has ordered an investigation into why Friedman was enlisted and given a rifle even though a municipal psychiatrist in his West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim had found him unfit to serve, Israel radio reported.

Friedman was a classmate of Nachshon Wachsman, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinian militants in 1994 and killed during an Israeli rescue attempt.

Wachsman’s father, Yehuda, told The Associated Press that Friedman was disturbed by his son’s death, came to their home several times and ``mentioned the need to avenge Nachshon’s death.″

Friedman was ``a little bit strange, but never seemed to me mentally unbalanced,″ Wachsman said.

Friedman told reporters Wednesday that he was ``completely normal″ and wasn’t sorry for what he had done. Asked why he shot at innocent Palestinians, he said: ``They’re not innocent. They hate the Jews.″

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