Suspicions against a Jewish settler who was arrested Wednesday in connection with a fatal stabbing in the West Bank have become stronger as he is now suspected to have killed the Palestinian.
The Jewish man is also suspected of obstructing a police investigation and his detention was remanded on Thursday. The man is barred from meeting his lawyers until midnight.
The victim, Ali Hassan Harb, 27, was stabbed in the chest near the settlement of Ariel on Tuesday and succumbed to his wounds later that evening. An Israeli court has placed a gag order on the details of the investigation, which is being conducted by the shin Bet and Israel Police.
The suspect's lawyer said his client was arrested after arriving at a police station to file a complaint against Palestinians who had attacked him. His lawyer, Adi Keidar of right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, also emphasized he was not allowed to meet his client.
Keidar said that after the first hearing everyone will realize police biased towards Palestinians adding that the "public must know that what happened was an incident that could have ended with the lynching of Jewish teens."
While "there were a lot of armed Arabs in the incident, but police and Shin Bet don't care about that," Keidar said. Videos from the scene show Palestinians holding clubs, however no violence was documented.
A security official said that a group of young Israelis had been walking through the area, next to the settlement's fence, to examine its suitability for setting up a new outpost. A witness told Haaretz that while they were there, a settler stabbed and killed Harb, a resident of the village of Iskaka near the settlement of Ariel, while he tried to prevent them from pitching a tent on his family's land.
Palestinians from Iskaka told Haaretz that at around 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, a shepherd called to inform them that there were Israelis on their land in order to erect a tent or outpost, and that locals went to chase the Israelis out of the area. A'atadal, Harb's aunt, said that the land is an olive grove, and that they had never had issues with settlers there.
Ramzi Harb, the victim's cousin, said that he arrived a few minutes before the incident, and that he saw a group of settlers near the fence, alongside police and military forces.
Two Palestinians who had arrived at the scene with Harb – Ziad and Amjad – said that the man who stabbed him had thrown rocks at them, and tried to stab one of them before turning to Harb. They said that the assailant was an older man, wearing a black shirt, military uniform pants and a hat.
"There were 10 to 15 very young settlers, and another four adults," Ziad said. "When we arrived they ran away, and then a security guard from the settlement fired into the air in order to drive us away."
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The Palestinians said that the Israelis returned a few minutes later, flanked by soldiers. "The settler walked in our direction, threw rocks and then waved a knife at me. I pushed him, and then he stabbed Ali," Ziad recounted. According to him and Amjad, the assailant left the scene afterward, taking his knife with him.
Ziad and Amjad said that they tried to approach Harb's body after he was stabbed, but an armed man in the area pointed his weapon at one of their heads. They added that the military prevented them from evacuating Harb's body for several minutes. The IDF said in response that "the claim that soldiers prevented a wounded person from being evacuated is incorrect."
Ramzi said that after the stabbing, Palestinians tried to evacuate Harb, but clashed with a security guard from the settlement who tried to prevent them from doing so. He was eventually brought to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.