Israeli Arrested Over Shooting Death of Palestinian Who Tried to Steal Truck

Resident of Beit Elazari, a moshav near Rehovot, told police that he fired in the air to scare the three alleged thieves away, but this story didn’t match the crime scene evidence.

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Israel Police near Beit Elazari, August 14, 2016.
Israel Police near Beit Elazari, August 14, 2016.Credit: Ilan Assayag

A 64-year-old Israeli man was arrested on suspicion of shooting and killing a Palestinian Sunday morning, apparently to prevent him from stealing his truck. 

Police said the man, a resident of Beit Elazari, a moshav near Rehovot, told them that three men had tried to steal his truck. He initially claimed to have fired in the air to scare the thieves away, but this story didn’t match the crime scene evidence. 

Later, after police found the dead man, the owner changed his story. He said one of the thieves threatened him with an iron bar, so he shot him.

Police are now trying to determine whether the owner, who has no criminal record, really opened fire in self-defense, or whether he shot the men in order to stop the theft. They held him for questioning for several hours, but released him to house arrest Sunday evening.

The incident occurred at about 5:30 A.M., when the 64-year-old owner heard a noise from the lot where his trucks are parked. He left his house with his legally owned pistol and upon reaching the lot, saw the suspects trying to steal one of the trucks, he said.

When the police arrived, he told them he had scared off the thieves by shooting in the air. But when the police searched the area, they found bloodstains. 

Soon afterward, an anonymous caller told the Magen David Adom ambulance service that a friend of his had been shot and was lying where he had fallen. Police went to the spot from which the anonymous call came and found the body of a Palestinian man of about 30 years old from the West Bank town of Halhoul, near Hebron. Lying next to him were gloves and tools for breaking into a locked vehicle.

Police later discovered that the call was made from the dead man’s cell phone. They concluded that his partners abandoned him to make good their own escape, but nevertheless wanted him found.

The man’s lawyer, Benzi Kveller, told Haaretz that when the man arrived at the lot, he heard the truck’s engine running and saw three men near it. He told them to go away, and when they didn’t, he became frightened and tried to run away himself, but slipped and fell. At that point, one of the thieves approached him carrying an iron bar. 

To drive him away, Kveller said, the man fired in the air three times. He then got up, ran back home and called the police. Only later, after the body was found, did he realize his shots had hit the thief.

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