Suspect Arrest Announced in Ami Ortiz Case

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JERUSALEM, Israel - An alleged "Jewish terrorist" who immigrated to Israel from the United States has been arrested in connection with several bombings, murders and attempted murders in Israel, including the bombing in the community of Ariel that severely wounded a teenaged Messianic believer, Ami Ortiz.

Ortiz is the Israeli Christian boy who was nearly killed in a bombing attack that made news around the world.

The teenager miraculously survived the bombing in March 2008, when he opened a package disguised as a gift for the Jewish holiday of Purim. The bomb devastated the Ortiz family apartment, shattered car windows three stories below and left 15-year-old Ami Ortiz near death.

Israeli police say the suspect, 37-year-old Yaakov "Jack" Teitel, plotted to bomb the Ortiz family. According to court documents, police found explosives and weapons and in his home.

Teitel was arrested by an Israeli elite counter-terrorism unit on Oct. 7 while he was distributing flyers praising the bombing this summer of a Tel Aviv club that catered to gays and lesbians.

Parents: Prayers Led to Miraculous Recovery

Ami has mostly recovered, but still has some physical and emotional scars. His parents say after a year of intensive medical treatment - and prayer from believers around the world - Ami made a miraculous recovery.

Still, the announcement deeply affected them.

"It was very chilling," Ami's mother, Leah, recalled. "In other words, I felt like my heart go cold. Because even though we know that there are people actually flesh and blood people that did it, just the fact that we found out what settlement they were from. That there were neighbors."

"I felt pain for these people. I prayed for them this morning," Ami's father David said. "I mean he's going to try and kill people, assassinate people, and ruin your whole life."

Criminal attorney Yossi Graiver represents the Ortiz family.

"We heard about their story when they contacted us and we were amazed by the fact that it could be done by a fellow Jew and we decided to take care of the case on an ideological basis," Gravier said.

"For me, it was the most natural thing to defend the Ortiz family as part of a group minority in Israel," he said. "Against other people that think differently than them; it's a legitimate reason to assassinate and kill them."

Despite the year and a half ordeal and their son nearly being killed, the Ortiz's still want the bomber to know the Gospel.

"Even though there are people out there that despise the Lord, I would like to in one way or the other convey to them that Yeshua is the Messiah and He hasn't forgotten the promises He made to their forefathers, Abraham, Isacc and Jacob," David said.

Investigation Continues

Police are investigating groups who may have a connection to the bombers and possibly helped finance it from America which would be a violation of U.S. law.

"Israel and America have an agreement concerning security and terrorism and these people collecting money and donations from American citizens to bring over here to work against Messianic Jews," David said.

The Ortiz's hope the case will improve religious freedom for messianic Jews, those who believe Jesus is the Jewish messiah.

"That we as believers can exercise our freedom of religion and to openly exercise our faith without fear of being fire bombed, bombed, harassed, you know jobs being lost, kids thrown out of school, whatever," Leah said. "And I just pray that this will lead to greater freedom of religion for the Body of Messiah in Israel."

David Ortiz: 'Stand by Israel'

Despite the attempted murder, Ami's father says believers need to stand by Israel.

"They should continue to pray for Israel, supporting Israel," David said. "These radicals are less than one percent of the population. They don't represent the Israeli public."

"So we should continue loving Israel and one thing about these things, we're not only called to love our friends, we're called to love our enemies," he said.

In addition to Ortiz bombing, Teitel is also suspected of killing two Palestinians in 1997 and planting a bomb in the home of left-wing Israeli Prize Laureate Ze'ev Sternhell, who was wounded in the blast.

A spokesman for Israel's Shin Bet (Secret Service) said Teitel has confessed to most of the crimes. Teitel faces a court hearing on Wednesday.

*Originally aired November 3, 2009.

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