Netanyahu on Tel Aviv Beach Murder: We'll Fight Domestic Terrorism

Leonard Karp beaten to death while walking with family on Tel Aviv promenade; 10 arrested.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday branded the brutal murder of a man walking with his family on a Tel Aviv beach as a "lynch," and vowed to fight the "domestic terrorism of crime."

"A man leaves his home with his wife and daughter and ends his life in some violent and dark thuggery," Netanyahu said.

"As soon as I heard about what happened, I telephoned Public Security Minister Aharonovitch," he said. "He told me about the investigation, which has since made progress, and I think that the police acted quickly here.

"...[I]n light of this shocking event and others, to expedite the planned operation, which we decided about in our first decisions, to strengthen municipal policing and the local police, because the ability to perpetrate these crimes against Israeli citizens will decline dramatically if more police are deployed on the ground and if they operate in certain ways that we could learn from overseas, how to lower crime levels."

Leonard Arik Karp, 59, is thought to have been accosted while walking with his wife and daughter along the beachfront on Friday night. It is believed that an argument erupted that subsequently turned violent, and culminated in Karp being beaten to death. Ten people have been arrested as part of the investigation into the attack.

"I think our obligation is to provide security for Israeli citizens and the State of Israel, but also personal security not only against terrorists but also against the domestic terrorism of crime," Netanyahu continued. "And we will do so determinedly and, I hope, successfully."

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin will convene a special session of the Knesset House Committee on Wednesday to address the recent wave of violence in Israel. Police, government officials and other law enforcement officials are scheduled to attend.

Karp's wife and daughter fled following the confrontation, only to return after they noticed that he had not joined them. When the two could not locate him, they called police.

The 59-year-old's body was found in the water not far from the Tel Baruch beach early Saturday morning. Karp's daughter identified the body as that of her father.

Netanyahu and Aharonovitch spoke on Saturday evening to discuss the recent spate of murders across Israel in the last few weeks.

Aharonovitch updated Netanyahu on the investigations into the murders, including the police response to the killing on Friday night.

Netanyahu told Aharonovitch that he was shocked and worried by Karp's murder. He instructed the minister to act as quickly as possible to make progress in the various murder inquiries, and to act quickly to press charges to bring those responsible to justice.

The prime minister also told Aharonovitch to increase the focus on violent crime, and to show zero tolerance when dealing with gangs such as the one suspected of Karp's murder.

Aharonovitch said Saturday that he views these incidents with the utmost gravity. "The cruel violence we have seen in recent days has no place in a civilized society in general, and in Israel specifically," said the public security minister.

He said that confronting such violence requires cooperation from all government offices.

"It is inconceivable that an innocent person could be strolling with his family and be beaten to death by a group of thugs," said Aharonovitch.

He praised the police for what he called their quick work in apprehending suspects and said he hopes they are brought to justice quickly.

Suspects detained

A Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday decided to partially reject an appeal from the police regarding the two teenage girls arrested in connection to the attack. The court ruled the 19-year-old female suspect remanded for two days, while the 17-year-old girl was released to house arrest.

Police on Saturday said that one of the suspects arrested in connection to Karp's death had confessed to her part in the crime and had recounted the events for investigators.

The teenage suspect from Petah Tikva, escorted by police, allegedly recounted for police what happened on the Tel Baruch beach in north Tel Aviv that led to Karp's death.

The girl said she saw the beginning of the incident and even tried to prevent Karp from being attacked, but that she was also struck by the murder suspects in response for intervening.

"An initial investigation reveals that the family encountered the suspects and a few words were exchanged, after which the suspects attacked the father and beat him," a Tel Aviv police source said.

Police suspect the assailants were under the influence of alcohol.

Police arrested ten suspects believed to be linked to Karp's death - eight are residents of the town of Jaljulya while the other two are teenage girls from Petah Tikva, including the girl who recounted the incident for police.

Attorney Uri Keinan, representing the girl, told Haaretz that the police violated the law by "preventing my client from meeting with a lawyer before she was investigated," adding that "any version given by her during the investigation is not worth anything in practice."

Svetlana Ellis, a cousin of Karp's wife, told Haaretz that she was shocked by the murder.

"This was simply a shock, what happened was a tragedy, a great tragedy," Ellis said.

Friends of the family said the Karps were very close had moved a few years ago from Petah Tikva to Ramat Aviv, after both the daughters in the family enrolled at Tel Aviv University.

Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said Saturday that all police resources would go toward solving several murders that have taken place in Israel in recent weeks.

Less than two weeks ago, a masked gunman walked into a gay community center in Tel Aviv and opened fire on a meeting for teenagers. Two people were killed and more than a dozen wounded. Police have yet to make any arrests in the case.