Arab-Israeli terrorist indicted for stabbing rabbi in West Bank
Israeli forces on Thursday charged an Arab-Israeli citizen for the brutal murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, who was stabbed to death in the West Bank settlement of Ariel last month, with the indictment claiming that the victim was chosen due to his appearance as a Jew.
On February 5, 19-year-old Abed al-Karim Assi was seen in CCTV footage crossing road and approaching 29-year-old Ben-Gal resident of the Har Bracha settlement at a bus-stop close to Ariel, where he subsequently stabbed him several times in the chest.
The attacker quickly fled the scene and emergency services arrived to provide initial care to the victim, who was taken to nearby Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah for further treatment where he was pronounced dead.
The suspect was arrested in Nablus in a joint Israel Defense Force (IDF), General Security Service (GSS) and Israel Police operation more than a month after the deadly attack. He was said to have been in hiding in the Northern West Bank.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the security forces at the time for “a successful intelligence operation.”
Assi was said to have been motivated to commit the attack and kill Jews after he had an argument with an IDF soldier at a junction outside of Ariel, according to the indictment filed at the Central District Court.
A few hours later, Assi reportedly purchased two 27-centimeter-long knives at a shop in Nablus. Upon returning to the junction, he was said to have seen Ben-Gal at the bus stop and identified him as Jewish by his Kipa.
He subsequently approached the father of four and was said to have attacked him “with great force” in his upper body, continuing to chase him even as the victim ran away. Assi was only stopped after being hit with a car when a driver passing by witnessed the incident.
The attacker, who is reported to have a background of drug abuse and social problems, was known to Israel's welfare services and was said to be living in a group home in Jaffa prior to the attack. He was also said to have spent time living with his mother in Haifa, as well as with his father in Nablus where he was eventually caught.
The funeral of Itamar Ben-Gal became a platform for those calling for the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to a an informal Israeli policy that murders of settlers are compensated with concessions to the settlers' movement.
Itamar’s widow, Miriam Ben-Gal called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve the construction of 800 housing units in the settlement of Har Bracha, where she currently resides.
“This is our consolation and the consolation of all the people of Israel. This will be the real answer to Itamar’s murder,” she stated.
Following the arrest of Assi, Ben-Gal’s wife said: “The truth is that I do not feel anything. This will not bring him (Itamar) back home to me…and it will not prevent another terrorist from destroying another family’s life.”
Ben-Gal's murder in February was part of a string of stabbing incidents which followed Trump's widely-contested decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
At least 31 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since Trump's announcement, which set off major protests.
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death penalty! home demolished! extended family stopped of citizenship and evicted to gaza or Syria