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Abbas, UN envoy slam Palestinian woman's death after suspected settler attack

Relatives of Aisha Rabi, 48, mourn at the family home during her funeral in the West Bank village of Biddya, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Rabi has been killed after being struck in the head by a stone thrown by Israeli settlers, Palestinians said.
AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
Aravi was traveling with her husband and nine-year-old daughter when their vehicle was reportedly attacked

Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, denounced the death of the Palestinian woman killed over the weekend in a suspected terror attack by Israeli settlers.

“I condemn this Friday’s attack in the West Bank in which Aisha Al-Rabi, a mother of eight, was killed and her husband injured by stones allegedly thrown by Israeli assailants,” Mladnev wrote Sunday.

Mladnev noted that an investigation had been initiated by Israeli authorities, who he called upon “to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.”

“Such attacks only seek to drag everyone into a new cycle of violence that would further undermine the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” the envoy said. “I urge all to condemn violence and stand up to terrorism.”

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank on Saturday attended the funeral for Aisha Mohammed Aravi, the 47-year-old Palestinian woman likely killed overnight following an attack by Israeli settlers as she drove with her husband near a checkpoint south of Nablus.

Aisha Mohammed Aravi, a mother of eight from the nearby village Biddya, was traveling with her husband, Yacoub, when a group of settlers reportedly began to throw stones at the vehicle.

According to Palestinian media sources, Aravi was hit in the head by the stones and died shortly after the incident. Her husband was wounded and taken to a nearby hospital in moderate condition for treatment.

On Saturday, her husband said he was certain that the settlers were responsible for the incident.

"I don’t have any doubt it was the settlers. There were six or seven of them, and it was clear that they were young. In such a place and time, no young Palestinian would dare stand there. The Za'atara area [in the West Bank] is always surrounded by a military force, and so it's clear that the settlers did it," Yacoub reportedly told Haaretz.

Yacoub told Reuters that “the stones came from the side where the settlement is. I could hear the people speak Hebrew, but I didn't see them."

According to her husband, Yacoub and his nine-year old daughter traveled to Hebron earlier in the evening to pick up Aravi, who had been visiting with an older daughter. Aravi had traveled to Hebron for wedding preparations with her third daughter, who was set to be married in two weeks.

Aravi, her husband, and their nine-year old daughter were in their vehicle traveling home when the assault happened, he told Israeli site Ynet.

The husband described the tragic moments after the incident as he and his nine-year old daughter witnessed Aravi’s death. “The little girl started screaming after seeing her mother full of blood. ‘Mom, Mama, talk to me, I beg you to talk to me,’” he recalls.

Yacoub says their little girl is traumatized as the two had been engaged in talking about the upcoming wedding moments before the incident, but insisted that the family did not want revenge.

“We do not want revenge,” Yacoub told Ynet, “only to catch the murderers and punish them.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Aravi’s husband on Saturday. Palestinian news agency Maan reported that Abbas described Aisha as a Palestinian martyr “killed as a result of settler crimes under the auspices of the occupation state.”

“This crime will not go unpunished,” Abbas vowed. “The Palestinian people are determined to remain and hold onto our land despite the crimes committed against them, and will struggle until the establishment of its state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

The division of the Judea and Samaria District Police, which investigates far right activities, along with Shin Bet security agency confirmed on Saturday that a probe had been opened.

The Israeli government has yet to make a statement on the incident and details pertaining to the investigation are under gag order.

Palestinian sources

The incident follows a tense week for Israeli-Palestinian relations in which two Israelis were killed by a coworker in the West Bank early in the week and seven Palestinians were killed in clashes with the IDF during protests on the Gaza border on Friday.

On Thursday, the IDF arrested a 19-year old Palestinian suspected of committing a stabbing attack that moderately wounded two Israelis outside an army base in the West Bank earlier the same day.

On Friday, the IDF announced it has made a number of new arrests in the massive manhunt for the Palestinian assailant who shot and killed two of his Israeli coworkers at a factory in Barkan last Sunday.

The fugitive gunman, 23-year-old Ashraf Waleed Suliman Na’alwa, arrived to the offices of the Alon Group factory in the Barkan industrial zone on Sunday morning and shot dead 28-year-old Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and 35-year-old Ziv Hajbi with an illegally manufactured Carlo-style submachine gun.

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