Murderers of Colonel 'Wanted to Give a Gift to Palestinians and Prisoners’

Shin Bet investigators say two suspects confessed they planned to rob Seraiah Ofer, but decided on murder after learning of his military background.

Retired IDF colonel Seraiah Ofer was bludgeoned to death outside his Jordan Valley home in October to “bring a gift to the Palestinian people and the Hamas prisoners in honor of Id al-Adha,” confessed the two Palestinians arrested for the murder, according to the Shin Bet security service. Investigators said Thursday that Oudeh Haroub, 18, and Bashir Haroub, 21, told their interrogators they originally intended to rob Ofer, but when they learned he was a former senior army officer, they decided to kill him.

Ofer’s wife Monique, 50, was injured in the attack and hospitalized.

The suspects, who live in the village of Dir Samet near Hebron, told investigators they began staking out the isolated, undeveloped Brosh Habika resort, which the Ofers late at night for about two weeks before the murder. They wanted to steal his weapons and other valuables, they said in their confession.

Oudeh and Bashir Haroub told the Shin Bet they had become more religious before the attack and even “prayed for success before approaching [Ofer’s] house and murdering him.”

They arrived carrying a pick-axe and hatchet and waited for Ofer and his wife to return home. After they attacked Ofer, Monique managed to escape and ran to Road 90 nearby. The two suspects then fled in fear, throwing away their weapons several kilometers from the scene.

They considered crossing the nearby border to Jordan, they told the Shin Bet, but after deciding against it they contacted a friend, Abed Shuarma, a resident of A-Ram north of Jerusalem, to come in his car and drive them away from the area. After Shuarma picked them up in his car, they told him about the murder and changed their clothes in his house. Shuarma was also arrested, interrogated and confessed, investigators said.

The Shin Bet said it will transfer the case to West Bank prosecutors so they can prepare the indictments.

Court overturned Ofer’s criminal convictions

Seraiah Ofer, 61, was the nephew of brothers and business partners Yuli and Sammy Ofer. His father, David, was commander of the Tel Aviv District Police, and his brother, Yitzhak “Bambi” Ofer, was a combat pilot who was killed in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War.

Ofer, whose army nickname was “Yaya Hakatan” (“Little Yaya”) was commander of the elite Shaked reconnaissance unit and one of the founders of the air force’s Shaldag commando unit. He went on to become deputy commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade.

After retiring from the army, he turned to business but racked up millions in debt. In the 1990s he moved to the Jordan Valley, where he founded Brosh Habika, meant to be an elaborate resort, but this venture, too, was unsuccessful.

In the past decade Ofer was sought by law enforcement on suspicion of financial crimes. He was accused of being the mastermind of a NIS 16.5 million customs and value-added tax fraud. In 2008 he was convicted of obstructing justice and sentenced to six months of community service, but in 2011 all the convictions were overturned with the exception of one count of failing to file tax reports on time.