In Hiding, Brothers Admit Murder but Claim Self-defense

From their hiding place in the North, two brothers from Haifa told Haaretz how they got into a brawl Saturday that ended with the stabbing death of 17-year-old Mohammad Husseini and the wounding of his 20-year-old brother.

The brothers Mohammad Bushaker, 20, and Murad Bushaker, 24, do not deny that Mohammad stabbed the Husseinis, of the central Israeli town of Zimr, with a knife that fell from Mohammad Husseini's hand. They now fear for their lives and are seeking a sulha (mediation) with the Husseini family.

Police declined yesterday to say whether the brothers are considered suspects in Husseini's murder, and released no details about the incident.

The confrontation occured Saturday in the Haifa neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas, during the annual "Holiday of Holidays" celebration.

"My brother and I were on our way to the market in Wadi Nisnas to do some shopping when we came across five young men," Mohammad Bushaker told Haaretz. I looked at them spontaneously and kept walking. Then one of them shouted at me, 'Hey, what are you looking at?' We approached them. They said, 'Come on up [to the end of the street] if you're real men. We'll shoot you.' They started pushing us."

"They were five and we were two, and they started beating us up. The younger of the two brothers took out a knife and tried to stab me. Somehow, I don't know how, the knife fell out of his hand. I grabbed it," Mohammad Bushaker said.

"My brother took the knife that fell from one of their hands and started to stab them. I went crazy when I saw the blood," the elder Bushaker brother said.

Husseini later died on the operating table at Rambam Medical Center. His brother, 20, suffered moderate stab wounds to his upper body.

Mohammad Bushaker lives in Haifa's Hadar neighborhood with his Russian wife, a convert to Islam, his mother and his brother. He has no criminal record.

The Bushaker brothers had contacted a layer, Tamar Ullman, to explore surrendering to the police. However, they changed their minds, and instead approached several community leaders to mediate between them and the Husseini family.

"I didn't mean to murder," Mohammad said. Whatever the other family wants, they'll do, the brothers said.