Israel Convicts Two West Bank Palestinians of Murdering 70-year-old Jewish Man

The body of Reuven Shmerling was found at his son's warehouse in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qassem in October 2017

Reuven Shmerling's funeral in the West Bank settlement where he lived, Elkana, Oct 6, 2017
Nir Keidar

The Lod District Court convicted two West Bank Palestinians of the murder of Reuven Shmerling Sunday. The two were also convicted of entering Israel illegally.

Shmerling, a 70-year-old resident of the settlement of Elkana was murdered during the holiday of Sukkot in 2017, and his body was found in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qasem on October 4 in a warehouse belonging to his son. 

A final hearing regarding the punishment the two will be faced with will be held in three months.

The two Palestinians admitted that they murdered Shmerling in revenge for the death of their friend, Ahmed Abu Al-Roub, who was killed while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack, and in connection to tensions during the Temple Mount crisis.

The murderers, Yusef Khaled Mustafa Kamil, 20, and Mohammed Ziyad Abu al-Roub, 19, from the northern West Bank village of Qabatiyah, were arrested in the beginning of October by the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police special anti-terror unit. The Shin Bet spokesperson said that investigations showed that the two planned to perpetrate a stabbing attack in order to kill Jews, with nationalist motivations, in revenge for the death of their friend. The IDF spokesperson said that as part of the operation in their village of Qabatiyah, their houses were identified and a demolition order has been placed on one of them.

Shmerling's body was found on October 4 in a warehouse which he managed and his son owned. On the eve of Sukkot, Shmerling left early in the morning to the warehouse. When he did not return home, his wife Chana alerted their son, who found his father's body, the indictment says.

The two defendants allegedly entered Israel on September 23 without a permit and began working and sleeping at Shmerling's son's warehouse in Kafr Qasem, northeast of Tel Aviv. The two bought a large knife, which Kamil hid under a mattress in the room where the two slept, the indictment alleges.

On the day of the killing Al-Roub lured Shmerling to the suspects' room on a ruse and diverted his attention, after which Kamil stabbed him from behind. Shmerling is said to have tried to defend himself with a chair but Al-Roub allegedly hit him with a fan while Kamil continued stabbing him. The two beat Shmerling until he collapsed on the ground. Later, according to the indictment, Kamil filmed Shmerling lying in his own blood before the two later fled with the help of an unnamed accomplice.

Prosecutor Sharon Mishal said the suspects admitted to the killing and reenacted it, adding that their DNA was found at the crime scene on the items used in the killing. The indictment also notes that they two men published nationalist Facebook posts.

"The accused caused the death of the deceased with the intention of killing a Jew because he is Jewish, and because they were angry at him for their work conditions," read the arrest warrant, "they attacked, stabbed and beat the deceased 70-year-old with a sharp implement, until he laid bleeding on the floor of the room, without moving, and then, in cold blood, showered, changed their clothes, and left the place."