Palestinian Convicted of Murdering Israeli Woman in West Bank Forest

Israel's military prosecution convicted Palestinian Muhammad Maruh Kabha for the 2020 murder of Esther Horgen, who lived in a West Bank settlement, after he confessed to the killing

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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A soldier near the scene of Esther Horgan's murder, in December 2020.
A soldier near the scene of Esther Horgan's murder, in December 2020.Credit: Rami Shllush
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

A Palestinian was convicted of the murder of Esther Horgen in a military court on Wednesday, after confessing to killing her in a forest in the West Bank in December 2020. 

Muhammad Maruh Kabha, 40, confessed to killing the 52-year-old mother of six while she was jogging in Reihan Forest near her home in Tal Menashe, in the northern West Bank. 

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Kabha's motive for killing Horgen was a desire to kill Israelis in retaliation for the death from cancer of a Palestinian prisoner he met while serving a sentence in jail, explained the indictment, filed in the Samaria Military Court.

According to the indictment, Kabha, from the town of Tura al-Gharbiya near Jenin, planned to commit an attack on civilians about a month before Horgen's murder and considered an attack on security forces. On the morning of the murder, he allegedly went to the forest to pick mushrooms and ran into Horgen, on a path. When Horgen ran away from him, the indictment claims, he decided to kill her.

Esther Horgan.Credit: Courtesy of Horgan family

The indictment explains that he kept her from escaping and beat her in the head twice with a large rock, dragged her into the trees, and hit her again with a rock. He then hid some of her blood-drenched clothes in a nearby pit and fled. That evening, the indictment asserts, Kabha met with his cousins, Fatah Badran and Walid Badran, and told them about the murder. The two said they would help him and they stayed in Fatah's house, according to the indictment.

Badran allegedly suggested obtaining weapons to protect Kabha and shoot at security forces. Kabha spent three days in Badran’s home and left to return to his own home, the indictment states. He was arrested the next day, four days after the murder. He confessed to murdering Horgen during questioning.

Muhammad Maruh KabhaCredit: Shin Bet security service

Kabha has served three terms in Israeli prisons for terror-related offenses, including involvement in a shooting attack and making explosive devices.

In February, the High Court of Justice gave its permission for the demolition of his home. Supreme Court Justices Isaac Amit, Daphne Barak-Erez and Anat Baron denied a petition by Kabha’s family to halt the demolition order, which also houses his wife and three children, who are minors, as well as his parents.

Horgen's family said in a statement after the indictment that incitement by the Palestinian Authority motivated the murder, calling for more aggressive actions against the PA.

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