The Jerusalem Post
Lenient sentence expected for accomplice in Shnerb murder
The IDF West Bank Prosecution on Wednesday requested a lenient sentence from the Judea Military Court for an accomplice in the terror murder of Rina Shnerb as part of a plea bargain agreement.
The accomplice, Ravchi Karaja, was convicted on Wednesday, but sentencing was left open, with the IDF prosecution seeking three years.
Shnerb family lawyer and former IDF West Bank chief prosecutor Lt.- Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch slammed the suggested sentence as far more lenient than the six to seven year sentence which one would expect according to sentencing guidelines.
In addition, Hirsch criticized the IDF prosecution for moving slowly in the case against the five central Palestinians involved in the murder.
Although Shnerb was murdered on August 23, 2019 and the defendants were indicted in December 2019, the case against the five main defendants is still embroiled in pretrial documents and evidentiary disputes. The main trial still has not even started.
These defendants are identified as Samer Arbid, Walid Hanatshe, Abed el-Razeq Faraj, Yzaen Majames and Kasem Shibli, with Karaja being an accomplice to Shibli.
Karaja was convicted of membership in an illegal organization and of failing to prevent a crime after he heard Shibli mentioning that he wanted to carry out an attack and probably around the Ein Bubin Spring where Shibli and others later murdered Shnerb.
Regarding the lenient sentence, sources indicated that there were evidentiary difficulties with the case against Karaja.
In addition, there was no evidence that Karaja knew the specific plans of the terrorists and was not involved in the murder itself.
The IDF Prosecution noted that it made sure that the court heard the position of Shnerb’s family on the question of sentencing.
One major twist in the case was that the Justice Ministry opened up a criminal probe of whether
the Shin Bet had broken the law and tortured Arbid during his interrogation.
Although Arbid’s medical condition during his interrogation deteriorated so badly that he was hospitalized and nearly died, the ministry decided this past January that the issue was caused by an unusual and unforeseen medical complication.
The ministry said that any moderate physical pressure applied to Arbid by the Shin Bet was within the permitted spectrum of pressure and was justified to save human lives.
In December 2019, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced that it had uncovered a 50-person terrorist cell believed to be behind a string of deadly attacks in the area.
According to the Shin Bet December 2019 statement on the investigation into the Dolev attack on Shnerb, the cell planned to carry out additional attacks.
As part of the investigation, approximately 50 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) operatives, including senior members of the Palestinian terrorist group, were arrested and many weapons were seized.
Many of the weapons were found during a joint IDF and Israel Police raid of a home belonging to one of Arbid’s relatives.
The members of the PFLP cell were arrested in the Ramallah area and were involved in shooting
attacks near the settlement of Ofra in December 2017 and near the settlement of Ofra in March 2019. There were no casualties in either attack.
In October 2019, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of suspects behind the attack at Ein Bubin Spring near the settlement of Dolev in which Shnerb was killed and her father and brother were injured.
According to the Shin Bet December 2019 statement, Arbid prepared the bomb and detonated it when he saw the Shnerb family approaching the spring.
The Shin Bet said that those arrested in October 2019 revealed the details of the preparations they made for the attack and how they implemented them.
The night before the Dolev attack, the cell members made their way north of Ein Bubin Spring armed with guns and explosives. Hanatshe, who funded the attack, drove Arbid to where the other cell members were waiting and left. Members of the cell led by Arbid then walked for two hours towards the spring where they placed the explosive device and Arbid eventually triggered the explosion.
The next hearing for the main five defendants is set for June 29. No date has been set for the final sentencing decision regarding Karaja.