A Golani brigade soldier from Rishon Letzion, Uri Hen, 20, was stabbed to death early Friday morning after an argument with a neighbor, police said.
Woodga Malik, 25, was arrested for allegedly stabbing Hen. He denies being at the scene. He was remanded for six days by the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court.
Magen David Adom emergency staff and police responded to the call of a stabbing in the yard of the city's Haviv school around 2 A. M. Friday. Hen was found critically wounded, given stabilization care and taken to Assaf Harofeh Hospital, Tzrifin. His condition deteriorated, and he died Friday afternoon.
The police who searched the area of the stabbing detained four youths, some of them known to the police. "We took them to the station. At first, they denied being anywhere near the scene of the murder, but later broke down and said they were sitting in the school yard with Uri and another person, who they claimed to be the killer," said Superintendent Tzvika Rosenberg, deputy commander of the Rishon Letzion police station.
Acting on the youths' testimony, police arrested Malik, who was released from prison three weeks ago. A switchblade, which police believe was the murder weapon, was found in Malik's apartment. Police said Hen was sitting with six youths in the school yard, talking and drinking alcohol. At some point several of them left to buy more drinks. When they returned, they said, they saw Malik running from the scene, and Uri lying on the ground, bleeding and screaming, "I've been stabbed."
Malik told police he was at a wedding when the stabbing occurred, but police say they have strong evidence he was involved.
"This was a murder resulting from a silly argument, a wrong word in the wrong place, alcohol and the unbearable ease with which people pull out a knife and stab. It was done for no real reason whatsoever," a Rishon Letzion police officer told Haaretz.
Police said Hen's mother told them she had frequently told him not to hang out with the youths, but to no avail. Hen served as a Negev machine-gun operator in the 51st battalion of the Golani Brigade. He returned home for weekend leave on Thursday, and spent the evening playing with his two younger brothers, the family said. When the brothers went to bed, Hen left to meet a friend, and the two eventually walked up to the school yard, some 200 meters from Hen's home.
"Hen knew them and hung out with them, but he had no part in the criminal activity in which some of them engaged," an officer from the Rishon Letzion police said.
Hen's uncle, Col. (res.) Kob Agmon, told Haaretz: "If we think this only happens to other people, we are wrong. It happens everywhere and can happen to anyone. It's not just fights, it's cold-blooded murder! The alcohol is not the killer, the knife is not the killer, the murderer with the knife was the killer."
Agmon said: "I can't believe we need to talk about Uri as about someone who had been taken away from us. He was a boy with values, a pure soul, a gentle and handsome man. He took part in countless military operations and fought bravely in Operation Cast Lead, earning a distinction."
Hours after Hen's stabbing, Kahad Masri, 25, from Tira, was shot dead when he drove his car to a parking lot near his home. Police believe one or more assassin ambushed Masri and shot him from short range.
Masri apparently managed to walk away and collapsed on his doorstep. He was taken by ambulance to the Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
The murder investigation has been assigned to the Central unit of the Central District police.
Around the same time, Bashar Alian A-Sana, 18, was fatally shot in the Negev village of Lakia. He was brought to a local clinic about 5:30 A.M. unconscious, the local doctor tried to resuscitate him and he was taken to Soroka Medical Center, Be'er Sheva, where he died. Local police are investigating, but no suspects have been detained. Police said they believe the motive was criminal. His body will be sent for autopsy to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv.
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