Arab Resident of Northern Israeli Town Charged With Murder in Extended-family Feud

Indictment says man, 20, ran over two other men, killing one and seriously wounding the other

Israel police car
Tess Scheflan

A resident of Arabeh was charged Sunday with murder and attempted murder in an extended-family feud. According to the indictment, Majad Asala, 20, ran down two Arabeh residents with his vehicle last month, killing one and seriously injuring the other.

On July 14, Samar Asala was driving with his son, Samara, and son-in-law, Morad Khatib, on the road leading to the town of Avtalyon. They parked their car at the roadside and stood near the safety barrier at a point overlooking the homes they were building there. At around 4 P.M. Majad drove his car to the scene, and when he realized they were there, made a U-turn, sped up and plowed into them. Khatib was killed and Samar Asala was seriously injured, while the son Samara managed to leap over the safety barrier and wasn’t hurt.

Majad Asala fled the scene without stopping to offer any assistance, according to the charge sheet.

“Immediately afterward the accused fled the scene driving west, without stopping his car or summoning help, with the right-side window of his car shattered and his car showing dents and damage as a result of hitting the deceased and Samar,” the indictment states. It goes on to say the accused killed Khatib “deliberately, after deciding to kill him, and killed him in cold blood without any prior provocation, under circumstances in which he could think and understand the consequences of his actions and after preparing himself to kill him with the vehicle.”

According to police, Majad returned home, and with the help of others tampered with evidence, hid the car and fled the area. After more than a full day in hiding he turned himself in to police. More than 30 people were questioned in the case.

His family and the family of Samar Asala, who was seriously hurt, are party to an ongoing feud. In February there was a clash between family members during which the hand of Majad’s father was broken. Those involved in the scuffle were arrested, including Majad, but were later released, with police planning to continue the investigation.

Attorney Tamar Ullmann, representing Majad Asala, said he rammed the three in self-defense because he saw they had pistols. “We will study the evidence,” she said. “We rely on the court to do its work.”