Four Jewish Teens Held Over Stabbing Death of Arab in Capital

Four Jewish teens have been arrested on suspicion of killing one Arab and wounding another, the Jerusalem police announced yesterday. Prosecutors plan to charge them with manslaughter.

The incident took place on Friday night, February 11. The four suspects - two residents of Jerusalem, one from the West Bank settlement of Itamar and one from the settlement of Beit El - were out drinking in downtown Jerusalem. On their way home, thoroughly drunk, they encountered two Arab men and began cursing and assaulting them with no provocation, according to the police.

The Arabs tried to defend themselves, and a fight erupted. One of the suspects then pulled out a razor and slit Hussam Rawidi's throat.

Rawidi, 24, of Kafr Akab, died soon afterward due to massive blood loss. The other victim, Murad Julani of Jerusalem, was only lightly wounded and managed to flee and summon help.

Police arrested two of the suspects on the spot; one of whom pulled a bloody blade from his pocket during the arrest. The third was arrested a few days later at the yeshiva where he studies, and the fourth - who is the chief suspect - turned himself in at an army roadblock four days ago. However, the arrests were under a gag order until yesterday.

Some of the suspects have criminal records for drug use and weapons possession.

Police said the motive for the original attack was clearly nationalist, but the chief suspect thought to have actually killed Rawidi joined the fight only when it was already at its height and may not have been aware of the victims' identities. All four admitted to having attacked Rawidi and Julani, but declined to explain their motives.

"They were looking for Arabs. They were looking to kill," Julani told Haaretz yesterday. "They tried to slaughter me like a sheep, too. They heard us talking Arabic and began cursing us harshly. I told Hussam, 'let's get out of here,' and then someone jumped him and four or five others came running and cursing.

"I told Hussam to go, and he began walking very slowly, his hand over his face. Then he slipped on the road. I picked him up and I looked at his shirt. It was full of blood."

Rawidi's father, Hussein, was outraged that the teens will be charged with manslaughter rather than murder.

"If it was the opposite, and my child had stabbed [them], everyone would have said it was murder," he said. "I tell the people of Israel that the court must give Jews what it gives Arabs. These children are educated to hate and kill Arabs. They slaughtered him like you slaughter a goat."

One suspect's attorney, Ariel Atari, said three of the teens didn't know the fourth was carrying a knife and therefore shouldn't be charged. Yair Golan, representing another suspect, said the same.