Family Feud Leads to Death of 13-year-old in Galilee Village

A feud between two families in the Galilee village of Yarka ended tragically over the weekend when a 13-year-old boy was murdered and his cousin was injured. Police have mounted a manhunt for the suspect.

Samer Khatar
Salah Daksa / Huna

The incident took place late in the evening on Thursday when shots were fired from a passing vehicle at two houses in the center of the village. The boy, Samer Khatar, who was sitting on the porch, was hit by a single shot in his back. His 23-year-old cousin, who was with year-old baby, was hurt by a ricochet. Magen David paramedics and a large police force from Acre, headed by the station's commander, Chief Superintendent Avi Edry, rushed to the scene. Police immediately separated members of the two rival families who had gathered.

Paramedic Yaniv Riz said the boy was wounded in his lungs by a single bullet and received treatment on the scene. He was taken in critical condition to the Nahariya hospital where doctors tried in vain to save his life; he died the next morning. The cousin and her baby were also hospitalized in Nahariya since there was concern that the infant had been wounded by the spray of a bullet, but after undergoing tests, he was released. The mother is in light to moderate condition.

The identity of the main suspect is known to the police, a source told Haaretz, and a manhunt is has been launched. The source said the murder came against the backdrop of a long-standing and complicated feud between two families in the village who are known to the police. The source said other villagers are aware of the feud and do not want to get involved; thus, the incident did not erupt into a general clash between clans.

Hundreds of mourners accompanied Samer Khatar to his grave on Friday afternoon, including his classmates from the Yarka junior high school. Members of the dead boy's family refused to comment on the murder but other villagers expressed anger at "the moral deterioration in the village that has led to the murder of an innocent child."

The Yarka local council and parents' committee published an announcement condemning the murder: "This is a tragic event that constitutes the crossing of all red lines," they wrote. :This is a serious crime and we cannot ignore it and return to our regular agenda."

They called on the sheikhs, other religious leaders, teachers and residents to condemn violence and work to prevent another event of this kind in Yarka. The statement also called on the boy's family not to take revenge, and rather to allow the police to find the suspects and bring them to trial.