Israel Arrests Five Jewish Minors Over Murder of Palestinian Woman

The minors, all yeshiva students, are suspected of terrorism and murder offenses for allegedly hurling rocks at Aisha Mohammed Rabi's car, Shin Bet says

Aisha Mohammed Rabi (left); her funeral in Biddya, Oct. 13, 2018.
AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

Five Jewish minors arrested in recent days are suspected of involvement in the October murder of a Palestinian woman in the West Bank, Shin Bet security service said on Sunday.

Aisha Mohammed Rabi, 47, and her husband Yacoub were driving near a West Bank checkpoint south of Nablus when a group of settlers threw stones at their car.

Two more minors were arrested on Saturday, yet it remains unclear whether they are suspected of the same offenses as the other three.  

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Rabi was reportedly struck in the head with a stone and died shortly after. Her husband was lightly wounded.

According to the Shin Bet statement, the teens are students at the "Pri Ha'aretz" yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Rehelim, which is located near the scene of the killing.

The morning after the attack, on Saturday, October 13, several far-right activists from the settlement of Yitzhar drove to Rehelim and instructed students at the yeshiva on how to deal with an upcoming Shin Bet investigation, the statement said.

The suspects' family members say the students attended the yeshiva regularly - unlike previous Jewish terror cases, where the youth involved had often dropped out of school. Several far-right operatives said they hadn't heard these boys' names before, which would mean they hadn't lived outside of the settlement, unlike those accused, for example, of the Douma arson case.

Despite being initially interrogated without an attorney present, the teens' lawyers, who met with them for the first time Saturday, said the teens told them they did not admit to being involved in the murder and denied all the allegations. The other two teens have still not met a lawyer.

One of the teens' lawyers, Adi Keidar of the right-wing Honenu legal aid group, said that the Shin Bet "puts minors in its cellars and cuts them off from the world." If it fails to extract a confession, he said, the Shin Bet arrests other teens.

"Tonight we met the minors for the first time after a week during which they were prevented from meeting a lawyer," Keidar added. "We heard things there that no citizen in Israel would [agree with, on] how young men are interrogated." Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents another teen, echoed Keidar's sentiment. 

In response to the criticism, the Shin Bet said that "Since the arrests, there have been efforts to slander the security service and de-legitimize it. This effort should be condemned and will not stop the Shin Bet from stopping all forms of terror, Jewish or Palestinian."

The Shin Bet added that all its investigations were done under the law and were overseen by the state prosecutor and the courts. "The suspects receive all their rights under the law. the claim that their rights were withheld in violation of the law are baseless. Over the past year, the Shin Bet has prevented hundreds of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, including Jewish terror," the Shin Bet said.

A gag-order has been placed on the publication of the names of the teens, as well as other details in the investigation.