Trial of Israeli Minor Accused of Killing of Palestinian Woman Begins

The teenager, whose identity is classified by a gag order, is accused of manslaughter for hurling a stone at the vehicle of Aisha Rabi in 2018 after DNA and far-right material linked him to the killing

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Yaqub al-Rabi at the Lod District Court, October 20, 2020.
Yaqub al-Rabi at the Lod District Court, October 20, 2020.Credit: מוטי מילרוד
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

The evidentiary state of the trial of a minor accused of the 2018 killing a Palestinian woman, Aisha Mohammed Rabi, by throwing a stone at the vehicle in which she was traveling in the West Bank, began Tuesday morning.

The defendant, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, is standing trial for manslaughter at the Central District Court in Lod, with the hearing taking place behind closed doors.

Aisha al-Rabi

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Rabi's husband, Yaqub, and their daughter, who were in the car during the incident, also arrived in the court. Before the hearing, Yaqub says he believes in the integrity of the legal proceedings, "otherwise I would not have come." He added that he was eager to "talk about what he saw," and spoke about his hardships since his wife was killed: "It's hard to cope with what happened. I am now both a mother and a father to nine children. It's a completely different life."

The defendent, then 16 years old, was arrested in the same month at a yeshiva in Rehelim, together with other students who were suspected of involvement but subsequently released. According to the indictment, the accused and other students stood by Pri Haaretz yeshiva in Rehelim, next to Route 60, between the junction of Rehelim and the junction of another settlement, Tapuach on October 12, 2018. A gag order has prevented the publication of the names of the teens, as well as other details in the investigation.

The indictment says that the suspect threw "a rock weighing close to two kilograms, with the intention of using it to harm Arab passengers, out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere."

The main evidence against the defendant is that his DNA was found on the rock that caused Rabi’s death. He claimed to have walked in the area where the stone was found and that it does not necessarily connect him to her death. “I may have spat at the stone,” he said during his interrogation. “I have chosen a life of Torah...I am not a person who gets tangled up in this sort of nonsense.” Besides the DNA, further evidence linking him to Kahanism, a far-right anti-Arab ideology inspired by Rabbi Meir Kahane, was found on his mobile phone.

The attorney representing the defendant, Ariel Atari, said that despite the DNA evidence, the case will examine the possibility that there was a secondary transfer of the DNA, citing research about how microscopic particles travel conducting during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Attorneys Muhammad Rachel and Nabila Kaboub, who are representing Rabi's family, said: "There is enough evidence in this case to convict the accused of the ugly and dangerous acts attributed to him in the indictment." They added that the case is "a difficult phenomenon in which a woman, mother of children and grandmother of grandchildren, was murdered, and the act destroyed an entire family."

Aisha Mohammed Rabi, 47, and her husband Yaqub were driving near a checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank when a group of settlers threw stones at their car. Rabi was reportedly struck in the head with the stone and died shortly after, while her husband was lightly wounded.

A demonstration for the release of the defendant in front of the Lod District Court, 2019.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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