‘Islamic Jihad member’ arrested by Israeli forces
JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces have arrested an alleged member of militant movement Islamic Jihad and detained other suspects over the murder of a rabbi and his son near West Bank city Hebron, officials said yesterday. The army, in a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency, did not disclose the number of people arrested, but added that “forces also located the weapon and vehicle used to execute the attack”.
Shin Bet said that the chief suspect “linked himself to the attack” during the investigation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the main suspect in the murders on Friday was a member of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. “The reprehensible terrorist who murdered Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel last Friday has been apprehended by the security forces; he belongs to Islamic Jihad,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
The Islamist movement is banned in Israel and considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and many Western countries. The 40-year-old father and 18-year-old son were ambushed and shot dead as they drove near the Jewish settlement of Otniel, south of Hebron, in the bloodiest attack on Israelis in nearly a month. There were a total of seven people in the car, and Litman’s wife and a 16year-old son were also wounded, according to Israeli media and Shin Bet. The army said the Israeli family was on its way to a Sabbath dinner at the time. Their murders sparked a manhunt, with soldiers backed by air units deploying in the neighbouring Palestinian communities of Yatta and As Samou in the occupied West Bank.
Controversy also broke out yesterday over an allegation by Litman’s wife, Noa, that a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance stopped at the scene but did not help the wounded. The Red Crescent denied the allegation. The claim drew a response from Netanyahu, who asked the foreign ministry to file a protest with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and request explanations. “If things are indeed as they seem to me today, the state of Israel will take appropriate steps against the Red Crescent,” which is a member of the ICRC, Netanyahu said in a statement.
Azzam Nimar, Red Crescent emergency centre director for Jerusalem, told AFP they had been refused entry by the Israeli military. “Our ambulance reached the scene, and the military refused to allow them and threatened them and told them to leave,” he said. “They left the area according to the army’s orders. Our mission is to provide care to anybody who needs it. We don’t look at religion. We have provided care for Jews many times.” Nimar said that the Israeli army has often delayed access to scenes of attacks. Violence since the start of October has killed 81 people on the Palestinian side - including one Arab Israeli - and 12 Israelis. Many of the Palestinians killed were alleged attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes. The shooting dead of two settlers in front of their children in the northern West Bank on Oct 1 was the first incident in the weeks-long wave of gun, knife and carramming attacks by Palestinians. —AFP
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second right) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (right) attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the PM’s office yesterday. — AFP