Ten Unanswered Questions about Yaakov Teitel and the Ami Ortiz case

In this article I want to draw on some points made by Judah Gabriel, Donna Diorio, Leah Ortiz and others.

1. Why did the police reportedly claim that the Ortiz bomb was really an accident with a firecracker, given the nature of the incident?

Here is a photo featured on AssistNews of the crime scene:


Area in the Ortiz family home where bomb filled with metal shards exploded forward into the dining room table and backward, ripping into the full length of Ami’s body. He was found on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood

2. Why did the police classify Messianic Jews as a ‘cult’ when Israeli law does not?

In the initial aftermath of the bomb that nearly killed Ami, Haaretz reported:

Police are investigating the possibility that the explosion occurred while the boy was opening a Purim gift basket. Police reportedly believe the blast was caused by some sort of firecracker used during Purim celebrations.

The Parents of the victim are members of the Messianic Jews movement, which the police classify as a cult. The boy’s father is considered to be one of the movement’s leaders.

After previous attempts to harm the family, a security camera was installed at the family’s home. The police were checking the footage to see whether the explosion was documented by the cameras. The police emphasized that there was no proof to support the theory that the explosion was deliberate and malicious.

Did the police’s definition of Messianic Jews as a cult affect the police investigation in any way?

3. How could the police suggest there was no proof to support the theory of an intended bomb, considering the horrific injuries sustained by Ami and the nature of the event?

4. Why did the police claim there was no photographic evidence of the bomber, when there clearly was?

5. Why were the police so lax to deal with the Ortiz’ photographic evidence?

As detailed on the Ami Ortiz website:

A police investigation was opened after the bombing. However, the Israeli police have been extremely indifferent and apparently negligent in conducting the inquiry. The surveillance cameras which had been installed by the Ortiz family actually managed to film the person who delivered the package. They handed this recording over to the authorities; but to their dismay, no arrests have been made and the police have refused to return the tape to the Ortiz family. A year after the tape was confiscated by the police and after repeated refusals by the police to release their property, the family brought the matter to court. With Ami and his parents present, the judge ruled to return the tape to the Ortiz family.

 6. Why, in November 2008, did AssistNews journalist George Whitten write:

As investigators continue to pursue leads in the case, there is some evidence that may connect the Ortiz bombing to another bombing that targeted left wing activist, Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, which took place in October. In both of these acts of terror, no arrests have been made, and many in Israel are wondering why, especially in light of Israeli expertise in discovering and ferreting out Arab terror cells.

7. Why did Israeli police initially downplay the possible link between the Sternhell bomb and the Ortiz bomb?

According to the security officials, the investigation has also explored possibility that those who perpetuated the attack were also responsible for a series of bombings over the past two years, including one against a Messianic Jewish family in Ariel earlier this year, in which a boy was seriously wounded.

However, Judea and Samaria police spokesman Danny Poleg on Sunday denied reports that a possible link existed between the Sternhell attack and the Ariel bombing.

“I have no comment about it, except that as far as I know, it’s not true,” Poleg said.

8. Since the attack on Ortiz, why have other instances of discrimination against Israel’s Messianic Jews not been taken seriously?

Again, from the Ami Ortiz site:

We are concerned that if this type of violence against Messianic believers in Israel goes unchecked by the prosecuting authorities, it can create a slippery slope of violence towards the community. A case in point, about two months after the Ortiz bombing, in May of 2008, hundreds of copies of the New Testament were publically burned by fanatic yeshiva students in Or Yehuda, a small town near Tel Aviv. Or Yehuda’s deputy mayor, Uzi Aharon, went on record at the time of the burning and called the actions of the yeshiva students a “commandment.” Furthermore, Aharon refused to unequivocally condemn the burning of the books; he even admitted that he had helped organize the mass book burning. A complaint has been submitted to the police in light of criminal laws in Israel which prohibit desecration of sacred texts and public humiliation of religious groups.

The police began an investigation of this incident, and took the testimonies of Mr. Charles Kopp and Mr. Harry Tees from the United Christian Council Israel. They functioned as witnesses and swore that the books in the photos of the burning in the Newspapers were in fact New Testaments. The police officers heading the investigation claimed that once the Attorney General, Mr. Menahem Mazuz gives them his approval, they will summon Mr. Aharon for questioning. As of today, this has not happened.

 9. How was Yaakov Teitel allowed to make aliyah in 2000 and obtain a gun licence, despite being in a suspect of murders from 1997 he has now confessed to?

From the Jerusalem Post:

Nevertheless, it is difficult to understand how the Shin Bet – which almost weekly catches wanted Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank – failed to arrest Teitel earlier.

This question is compounded by the fact that in 2000, Teitel returned to Israel after a three-year hiatus in Florida and was detained by the Shin Bet, which had obtained intelligence regarding his possible involvement in the 1997 murders.

While Teitel was questioned and the intelligence – according to his recent confessions – appears to have been reliable, the Shin Bet had no choice at the time but to release the new immigrant after failing to obtain substantial evidence to support the intelligence information.

If he was a suspect, though, why was Teitel then granted a gun license by the Interior Ministry? The police said Sunday that since he was never charged with anything, there was no legal basis for preventing him from obtaining a license. This seems a bit strange, though, considering some of the draconian steps authorities are now using, such as preventing Teitel from seeing a lawyer for some 20 days.

The arms cache that was discovered near Teitel’s home and which contained nine different automatic weapons, sniper rifles and pistols was smuggled into Israel in a shipping container, officials said Sunday. Here, too, the Shin Bet could have been expected to inspect Teitel’s container if it already had suspicions regarding his involvement in the 1997 murders.

10. How can this be prevented from happening again?

 Posted by Yeze.

9 thoughts on “Ten Unanswered Questions about Yaakov Teitel and the Ami Ortiz case”

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