Israeli Arab Terrorist Behind Murder of West Bank Rabbi Charged

Abed al-Hakim Asi identified Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal as Jewish by his clothing and skullcap, prosecution says, confirming attack was politically motivated

Ais Abed El-Hakim, the terrorist behind the stabbing attack outside Ariel that left Itamar Ben Gal, 29, dead February 5, 2018
Tomer Appelbaum

An Israeli Arab was charged with premeditated murder for stabbing a Jewish man to death in the West Bank last month. The prosecution confirmed that the incident was politically motivated.

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The State Attorney's Office charged the man, described by officials as a homeless with drug issues, for his role in the death of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, who was stabbed to death at a bus station near the West Bank city of Ariel on February 5.

Abed al-Hakim Asi, 19, identified Ben Gal, 29, as Jewish by his clothing and skullcap, while he was waiting for a bus, the prosecution said.

The scene of the terrorist attack in Ariel, February 5, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

Asi then stabbed Ben Gal in the chest and abdomen, because he “wanted to carry out an act of terrorism” on ideological grounds, and “cause the death of Jews because they are Jews,” all because of an argument he had the day before with Israeli soldiers at the Ariel intersection.

Ben Gal was treated by civilian medics and military medical forces at the scene before he was evacuated to the hospital, where he died from his wounds.

Asi was caught in Nablus a month and a half after the attack following a protracted manhunt.

A security camera clip from the scene shows Asi disembarking from a taxi van, crossing the road and then stabbing Ben Gal. The rabbi, who was on his way to his nephew’s circumcision, fled, but the assailant threw his bag down onto the road and chased his victim.

Asi had lived in Jaffa until recently. The Haifa municipal authorities reported that he was known to the city welfare services as a drug-addicted homeless man.

Over the years efforts were made to help him after he had been abandoned by his parents. He had been offered help, including housing and rehabilitation, several times, but each time chose to stop the process, the city said.