Who really threatened Pastor Ortiz?

It was widely known that Pastor David Ortiz lived dangerously and had been both physically attacked, and had received numerous threats to his life from Palestinian Arabs.

At the time of the gag order on March 21, 2008, it was still assumed that Arab terrorists were responsible for the explosion, which severely injured the Pastor's son, Ami Ortiz.

But at that time there appeared to be a calculated effort to take advantage of the imposed silence and turn the entire episode into a public relations campaign on behalf of the "persecuted" messianic community, with the family's messianic attorney Calev Myers introducing the concept to the press that the "dehumanization" of the messianic community taking place in the "religious newspapers"..."could produce in the minds of some radical Orthodox Jews a kind of justification for carrying out the bombing of an innocent family."

Pastor David Ortiz appeared to take his cue from Myers and shortly thereafter declared that, "police are leaning towards suspecting Jewish anti-missionary activists".

But I checked with a lawyer, and a gag order means that the family, the press, and the family's lawyers are not privy to information on the case, as that would be a clear breach of the court's decision.

Leah Ortiz reported in an update on July 23, 2008 that police had told her that "there's no connection between us and other instances of persecution" (she disagreed with them and told them that due to police inaction people like Eddie Beckford from Arad were being heavily persecuted by the ultra Orthodox).

When this writer checked with a reporter covering the case for the Jerusalem Post in March of 2009, I was informed that police had not ruled out Arab terror and that the only information claiming otherwise was coming from Christian sources.

Below are samplings of both pre-bombing and post-bombing reports which demonstrate the type of dangerous life-style David Ortiz lived and the threat he was under.

Pre-bombing reports

The Christian Edition of the Jerusalem Post, August 2007
Despite the dangers to himself and those who accept his bibles and message, Ortiz has even challenged radical Hamas figures. In one incident in a Palestinian refugee camp, he visited a medical clinic and encountered five Arab men waiting to see the doctor…
…”When they left, someone told me I had been praying with the local Hamas leaders and his four bodyguards”

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Religious Freedom Coalition Newsletter, March 14, 2003
Also present was a dear friend of our ministry, David Ortiz, who has been working with Christian families in the Jewish settlements and with Palestinian Christians.

During the meeting a plan was devised to extract the families of the two brothers from PA control and find the brothers and their families a permanent home in the United States. I cannot discuss those details at this time, because this newsletter appears on our Internet site which is monitored by the enemies of Christ and democracy.

Later in the afternoon David took us to meet two men who had accepted Christ under his ministry and who were facing grave situations in the Arab villages near Ariel. We had to pick the men up at odd locations along the highway because they could not afford to be seen with us. One of the men had been accused of "collaborating" after it became known he had accepted Christ. He had been arrested by the PA "police" and held in a crude jail for more than nine months. Several times he was handcuffed and then hung from a wall by the cuffs. One time he hung on the wall for a week.

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Post-bombing reports:

The Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2008
David Ortiz works mainly with Palestinians in the West Bank, encouraging them to convert to Christianity.

Ortiz, said one acquaintance, had received death threats from Muslims angered by his missionary efforts. A number of his followers have been beaten up and jailed by Palestinian Authority officials.

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Jerusalem This Week : Ron Cantrell, Friday, March 21, 2008
Ortiz, had received death threats from Muslims angered by His missionary efforts among Muslims. A number of David's ex-Muslim converts have been beaten up and jailed by Palestinian Authority officials. Ortiz has a close relationship with Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman who has actively pursued strengthening the town's connections with overseas Christian groups.
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Israel Today Friday, March 21, 2008
The working assumption remains that the attack was carried out by Palestinian Arab Muslim terrorists, who have threatened the Ortiz family on numerous occasions in the past over their ongoing efforts to bring local Muslims to faith in Yeshua.
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The Christian Telegraph, March 22, 2008
“The Ortiz family is well-known in Ariel, where they have been living for over a decade. An ordained minister, Ortiz works mainly with Palestinians living in the West Bank, encouraging them to embrace Christianity. Ortiz, said one acquaintance, has received death threats in the past from radical Muslims incensed by his missionary efforts. A number of his followers have been beaten up and jailed by Palestinian Authority officials.
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Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2008
Meanwhile, Pastor David Ortiz, speaking to The Jerusalem Post from Schneider Medical Center, where his son Ami is hospitalized in serious condition, said that since he came to Israel over 20 years ago he has been the target of violence, mostly by Muslims…. Ortiz said that he has been beaten up on at least one occasion by Palestinians from a neighboring village while distributing Bibles, and that a Molotov cocktail was once thrown at his car.

In the mid-1990's the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Said Sabri, issued a fatwa [religious order] calling to kill Ortiz.

"The fatwa was even published in the Al Quds newspaper. I got a call from the US Embassy asking me to keep a low profile.

"Luckily, I am still here, still ticking. But I live my life as if every day could be my last."

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United Christians Community Newsletter (CNS report), March 27, 2008
David Ortiz is on Hamas' hit list and the group put out a fatwa - a religious edict - calling for his death several years ago, she noted. The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the gift basket bomb and Hamas bragged that it had used an Israeli Arab to bring in the bomb, she said.

There have been several Palestinian terror attacks outside the gates of the community over the last few years, including one at the city's hotel, one at the gas station and at least one at the nearby bus stop.
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World Magazine, April 5, 2008
Investigators are looking into two primary suspects: Arab terrorists and Jewish extremists. The local ultra-Orthodox have a history of harassing the Ortiz family, but the city's Muslims have also been angered because of the family's work among the Arab population. David Ortiz, the boy's father, has led a number of Muslims to Christ, and Hamas issued a fatwa against Ortiz several years ago.

Family friend Hannah Weiss shared her perspective on the attempted murder: "There is a lot of talk about extreme Orthodox groups which live in the area and do not disguise their hostility against believers. But no matter how violent, I have never heard of any Jew packing metal shards and bolts into a bomb—much less us[ing] it on fellow Israelis." —

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Assist News Service (ANS), March 27,2008
Pastor David Ortiz, a Messianic Jew whose four oldest children have all served in the Israeli Defence Forces, has been living in Ariel with his family, pasturing a small Messianic congregation and witnessing to West Bank Arab Muslims for many years. For this he has been shot at, beaten and stoned, while Hamas has issued a fatwa against him for the crime of leading a Muslim to faith in Jesus. On top of this, rejection and open hostility from radical Orthodox Jews can be both threatening and hurtful.

Read: Anti-Semitism, a Blood Libel, or Gross Opportunism?
Exploding the myths and exposing the lawyer

UPDATE: an arrest has been made

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