Followers of the slain militant nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane went on violent hunts for Palestinians and journalists along the route of his funeral Wednesday and mingled shouts of “Death to the Arabs!” with prayers for the dead at the burial.
Police estimated the funeral crowd at 15,000, larger than Kahane usually attracted over the years at his bitterly anti-Arab political rallies. Small groups of youthful members of his Kach movement also chased away an Israeli television crew and shattered windows in a Jerusalem shopping center while pursuing Palestinian workers.
In an attempt to head off violence, 2,500 police reinforcements had stationed themselves at major intersections on the three-mile funeral route between a seminary run by Kahane and the Givat Shaul cemetery on Jerusalem’s outskirts. Jerusalem and other parts of Israel have been under the sway of a series of intercommunal knifings and revenge attacks for the past month.
Despite the police presence, clusters of mourners periodically broke out of the procession, urged on by calls of “There’s an Arab. Let’s get him.”
On one street in the Givat Shaul neighborhood, an Arab passenger traveling on a bus was pulled out and kicked and trampled by a mainly youthful mob. Police intervened, and the man was carried by stretcher to an ambulance as the crowd, including men, women and children, surged menacingly toward him and shouted for death.
A knifing of another Arab was reported near the vegetable market in central Jerusalem and another beating near the cemetery. Police reported four Palestinians and two police officers were injured and that 13 rioters were arrested.
“This is the danger engulfing us now--that Kahane’s murder will spark a dizzy cycle of further murders,” Yediot Aharonot, the country’s largest-circulation newspaper, warned earlier in the day.
Journalists also were targeted by hostile mourners. A group assaulted an Israeli television crew and chased it into its studios, which were then bombarded by stones. Marchers also hurled rocks at photographers covering the burial.
Kahane supporters complained that reporters ignored the fiery activist while he was alive. They also expressed resentment of Israel’s political leadership for having ostracized Kahane. The Brooklyn-born rabbi was forbidden to run in the 1988 elections for Parliament on the grounds that his Kach movement was racist. Kahane had won a parliamentary seat during the 1984 elections.
The focus of Kach’s platform is the removal of Arabs from Israel as well as the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Energy Minister Yuval Neeman was shouted away from paying condolences at an afternoon memorial service. Later, Rehavim Zeevi, the founder of the ultranationalist Faithful of the Israeli Homeland Party, was also jeered at the burial site and left hurriedly. Both Neeman and Zeevi are considered hard-liners on dealings with Palestinians, and Zeevi favors the expulsion of Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza.
In New York, police sources said the investigation continues to point strongly to the theory that El-Sayyid A. Nosair acted alone when he allegedly killed Kahane.
Sources said detectives were told by people who knew Nosair well that the 34-year-old city air-conditioning repairman, who worked in a criminal courts building in Manhattan, had been angry and depressed recently.
Nosair’s two lockers at the courthouse were opened by detectives and a number of papers in Arabic were removed for translation. Other papers and records were seized after a search warrant was executed at his home in Cliffside Park, N.J.
But it was understood that translators so far had found nothing in the papers to link Nosair to any terrorist group. Also, no group has claimed responsibility.
Laboratory technicians examined the .357-caliber Ruger revolver allegedly used to shoot Kahane. They found that attempts have been made to obliterate the serial number on the gun, and there were signs that attempts also had been made to modify the weapon for a silencer.
Late Wednesday, Nosair--wounded when he was captured--was arraigned in his bed at Bellevue Hospital on five counts, including murder. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life on second-degree murder charges alone.
With Kahane’s death, the media and politicians that shunned him were induced to throw light on his exclusionary politics. Israel Radio gave lengthy explanations of how Kahane proposed to expel Arabs: They could take money and leave voluntarily or they would be dumped into neighboring Arab countries without compensation.
The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, debated Kahane’s legacy and the significance of his assassination, and liberal politician Avraham Burg declared that Kahane believed in the ideology of “thou shalt kill.”
Members of the ruling, right-wing Likud Party countered that whatever Kahane’s beliefs, his slaying was an attack on freedom of speech.
During the memorial service, a Kach activist vowed revenge.
Times staff writer John J. Goldman in New York contributed to this report.