Jewish Underground Bombs Palestinian Officials Menachem Livni, leader of Jewish Underground pictured with his wife in court, July 1985. Photo: Havakuk Levison/Reuters Archive

June 2, 1980

HaMakhteret HaYehudit (the Jewish Underground), a terrorist group formed by members of the Orthodox Gush Emunim movement, launches its first round of car-bomb attacks on West Bank Palestinian officials. Bassam Shakaa, the mayor of Nablus, loses both of his legs, and Karim Khalaf, the mayor of Ramallah, loses one leg. Multiple organizations call for the Israeli government to disarm the group, saying its activities harm Jews and Arabs. 

Using the example of the anti-British Lehi (Stern Gang) from pre-state era, the Jewish Underground forms in response to the 1978 Camp David Accords and 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, which the settler movement views as the first step toward a Palestinian state in the West Bank or Judaea and Samaria, as well as to hostilities against Jewish settlers. Members seek revenge and aim to induce Palestinians to flee the West Bank out of fear.

On July 26, 1983, three Jewish Underground members attack the Islamic College in Hebron with grenades and automatic rifles, killing three students and wounding 33 others. The Shin Bet security service arrests 15 people after a two-year investigation April 27, 1984, foiling an operation that day to explode bombs under five buses driving through Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon. The arrests and subsequent convictions of the Jewish Underground terrorists prevent the organization from proceeding with a plan to destroy the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.