Jewish settler leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger left jail today after serving 13 weeks of a five-month sentence for killing an Arab man and said he would shoot again if he thought it necessary.
Dozens of supporters and two legislators from the right-wing Likud Party greeted Levinger on his release from the minimum-security Nir prison. The legislators lifted Levinger on their shoulders and began dancing in celebration.
Levinger was convicted by a Jerusalem District Court in April of causing the shooting death of Kayed Sallah, 42, through negligence. He plea-bargained to reduce the charge of manslaughter.
In the Sept. 30, 1988, incident in the West Bank town of Hebron, Levinger fired his pistol indiscriminately after Palestinians stoned his car. Sallah, who was standing in front of the shoe store he owned, was killed.
The ultra-nationalist rabbi said he fired in self-defense because Arab protesters stoned his car. But witnesses said he rampaged through Hebron's Arab market--overturning stalls and shooting wildly--well after the stoning.
Levinger vowed today to open fire again if he believed he was in a life-threatening situation.
"If I'm in a situation of danger again, I'll again open fire," Levinger said on Israel radio. "I hope that next time, I will be more careful and I won't miss the target."
Levinger served 92 days of his term and was released early for "good behavior," Prison Authority spokeswoman Shuli Meiri said.
Members of the left-wing Mapam Party demonstrated outside the prison to protest Levinger's early release, scuffling with Levinger's supporters.