Israeli Bedouin Man Who Murdered Soldier Originally Planned to Kidnap a Combatant

Khaled Abu Judeh confesses to killing IDF soldier Ron Isaac Kukia, 19, in November knife attack in Arad, but says he initially looked to anesthetize someone and exchange them for Palestinian prisoners

Soldier Ron Isaac Kokia (L),the scene of a suspected stabbing attack in Arab, southern Israel, November 30, 2017.
Eliyahu Harashkovitz

An Israeli Bedouin man has confessed to murdering an Israeli soldier in a knife attack in the southern city of Arad last month, but says the original plan was to kidnap a soldier and negotiate the release of Palestinian security prisoners.

Details of the case were cleared for publication on Friday.

Khaled Abu Judeh, a Bedouin from the town of Kseifa in the northern Negev, admitted to murdering Ron Isaac Kukia, 19, in a stabbing attack at a bus stop in the desert city on the evening of November 30.

Abu Judeh and his relative, Zahi Abu Judeh – who helped plan and carry out the murder – will be indicted on Sunday for the crimes.

Khaled Abu Judeh confessed during questioning that he had originally planned to kidnap a soldier, and use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations to release Palestinian security prisoners. He said he intended to use anesthetics he had obtained during his work experience at Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva.

Later, though, he changed the plan to murdering a soldier and stealing his weapon. He bought a car to use as an escape vehicle after the murder, and saved money that he planned to use while hiding out after the killing.

Khaled Abu Judeh said he murdered Kukia and stole his weapon because of his “desire to take action on behalf of the Palestinians, and as revenge for the Israel Defense Forces’ actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

In the months before the attack, the two men explored the area around Arad armed with a knife, with the aim of locating a soldier, stabbing him to death and stealing his weapon, Khaled Abu Judeh told investigators.

After Khaled Abu Judeh stabbed Kukia, he met Zahi Abu Judeh and they hid Kukia’s rifle. They later told investigators where it could be found.

Kukia, from Tel Aviv, was stabbed to death while waiting near the local mall. He was a combat soldier in the Nahal infantry brigade. Kukia was found unconscious at the bus stop by attending paramedics, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was buried at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul, north of Tel Aviv.