The family of a Palestinian suspected of killing two Israelis in the West Bank last Friday has denied that he was turned in by his father out of concern that the family home might be demolished.
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Shadi Ahmed Mataua from Hebron was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of carrying out the shooting in which Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel were killed. The attack occurred near the settlement of Othniel, south of Hebron in the West Bank.
The Shin Bet said after Mataua’s detention that he had been turned in by his father to prevent the subsequent demolition of the family home. Mataua, 28, is married and the father of two.
One of Mataua’s uncles told Haaretz that the father, a merchant, was on his way back to Hebron on Friday when he was stopped at a military checkpoint between Halhoul and Hebron.
“The soldiers stopped him and asked for his identity card. When they saw the name Mataua he was arrested and taken in for questioning. They went over the names of his children on his identity card, and when they got to the name of Shadi they asked where he was. The father told them he was at home. Then they transferred the father to a military vehicle and a convoy left in the direction of the house. They surrounded it and arrested Shadi, and after a few hours the father was released,” he said.
Having heard of the reports in Israel that Mataua’s father had turned in his son, the family decided to respond, the uncle said.
“We heard it and I reject it vehemently. The father was detained at the checkpoint and we know nothing about what is happening and whether Shadi was really involved in it or not. We are sitting at home and following the news,” he said.
The Shin Bet maintains that Mataua has implicated himself in the attack and that the gun and vehicle used were located during his arrest. They say he is associated with the Islamic Jihad organization.
According to the Shin Bet, Shadi told his brother, Majdi, that he was the one who carried out the attack. The brother told the father and the two decided to hand over Mataua to the authorities.
Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were driving with five other family members to a family event in the southern town of Meitar. Their vehicle was ambushed at about 3 P.M. near Otniel, in the southern Hebron hills. Two other passengers, a woman and a 16-year-old male, were moderately wounded and three girls were treated for shock.
The two victims were laid to rest on Saturday at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery.
Islamist militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack as a “natural response to crimes conducted by the Israeli occupation.”