JERUSALEM -- The head of Israel's Shin Bet security service warned yesterday that Jewish extremists are becoming more militant, as some prominent rabbis encouraged settlers to resist evacuation from their homes.
Violence continued in the Palestinian territories as an Israeli motorist and a Palestinian gunman were killed in separate shootings in the West Bank, and a Palestinian teenager was shot and killed in the Gaza Strip. Also, Israeli border police killed a Palestinian laborer west of Jerusalem.
Israel is preparing to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four isolated settlements in the West Bank. The evacuations will affect about 7,500 Jewish settlers in Gaza and about 500 of the 230,000 residents of West Bank settlements.
Some settler leaders have said they would resist. Many settlers are religious Jews who say the West Bank is theirs by divine promise.
Yitzhak Levy, a politician from the pro-settler National Religious Party, said he does not support violence but did not rule out the possibility of fighting.
"The eviction will be tough," he told Israel's Channel Two TV. "But I can't promise it won't be violent, even though we are calling for there not to be violence."
Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter told a Cabinet meeting yesterday that the threat of extremist violence among Jewish settlers is growing, a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Jewish militants recently attacked an army officer in Jerusalem because he helped dismantle a synagogue at an unauthorized West Bank settlement outpost, the official quoted Dichter as saying.
In recent weeks, settler leaders and prominent rabbis have spoken out harshly against the government's plan to remove some settlements.
Last month, settler leader Uri Elitzur, a former top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said violent resistance to settlement evacuations is legitimate. An eminent rabbi in Jerusalem also has said that anyone who removes Jewish settlements would be subject to the death penalty under biblical Jewish law.
Justice Minister Joseph Lapid told the Cabinet meeting that he is not surprised by the growing threat. He said the police force's failure to take action against Elitzur was encouraging violence, according to a source close to Lapid.
Israeli security officials confirmed that the Shin Bet has grown concerned.
They said the main threat is assassination. In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by an ultranationalist Jew opposed to Rabin's peace efforts. The security officials said they also were preparing for the threat of attacks on Arabs and potential violence against security forces.
Palestinian militants carried out attacks yesterday in the northern West Bank, including an ambush that killed a Jewish settler driving near Jenin, the army said.