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Israel arrests five settlers in connection with October killing of Aisha al-Rabi

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Israeli authorities have arrested five Israeli settlers suspected in the killing of 48-year-old Palestinian woman Aisha al-Rabi last month, according to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency.

Al-Rabi was killed in October 2018 when a group of settlers attacked her and her husband’s car with rocks on a West Bank highway. The mother of eight sustained a severe head injury that killed her, while her husband and young daughter sustained light wounds.

The al-Rabi family’s car after it came under attack by Israeli settlers (Photo: Palestine News Network)

The Shin Bet said in a statement Sunday night saying that the five Israeli settlers were all minors from the illegal Rehelim settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, located just off the road where the attack on al-Rabi’s car took place.

The settlers are all reportedly students at a yeshiva, or Jewish religious school, in Rehelim.

The Shin Bet alleged that the morning after the attack on al-Rabi, several far-right “activists” from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar drove to Rehelim and instructed students from the yeshiva on how to prepare for an upcoming investigation from Israeli authorities.

Yitzhar is a notoriously violent settlement in the West Bank, and is home to a yeshiva that has been traced to the birth of the religious-nationalist Hilltop Youth organization — a group of young Israeli settlers who regularly commit “price tag” attacks on Palestinians and their property.

Following the arrest of the settlers, whose identities remain unknown, Israeli media reported that the teens were initially interrogated without their lawyers present — a right routinely denied to Palestinian minors detained by Israeli forces in the occupied territory — leading to public condemnation from the youth’s lawyers

The Shin Bet responded to the criticisms saying: “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 agency went on to call the suspects dangerous “anti-Zionist” extremists, releasing pictures of a burning Israeli flag, and another flag with “death to Zionists” written on it alongside a swastika, allegedly the work of the suspects.

“Over the past year, the Shin Bet has prevented hundreds of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, including Jewish terror,” the Shin Bet said.

Despite the Shin Bet’s alleged efforts to prevent “Jewish terror” over the past year, Haaretz reported on Sunday that 2018 saw a steep rise in Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians.

According to the report, anti-Palestinian attacks tripled in 2018, with 482 “politically motivated” crimes by Jews reported in the occupied West Bank, including assault and property damage, compared to 140 reported incidents in 2017.

There are an estimated 500,000 – 600,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank in settlements that are considered illegal under international law.

Israeli settlers often move to the occupied territory for political and religious reasons, with many regarding themselves as inhabiting a land that is rightfully theirs — and staking their claim to that land through violence against Palestinians.

Rights groups and activists have long accused the Israeli state and security officials of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israelis committing violent acts against Palestinians, who are rarely prosecuted for their crimes.

Israel’s High Court ruled last summer to release an Israeli settler who was involved in the 2015 firebombing of the Dawabsheh family home, which killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh and his parents, under the pretext that the settler was only a minor at the time of the high-profile attack.

Meanwhile, Palestinian minors have repeatedly been sentenced to decades in prison if they are found guilty of attacking or killing Israelis.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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11 Responses

  1. Kay24 on January 7, 2019, 11:24 am

    They are terrorist brats, and they deserve the harshest punishment. It seems the Israeli government pretends they cannot control these evil settlers, but give them winks and nods to continue their vicious attacks against innocent Palestinians. Most likely these juvenile criminals will get a rap on their knuckles, and get the most lenient sentence, which would be probation for a few weeks. They will then be treated like heroes by the rest of the setters.
    The joke is, the other side is always called the terrorists. It seems Israel has plenty of them too.

    • jeff_davis on January 8, 2019, 11:56 am

      Israel is a geopolitcal crime-in-progress. The settlers are like ISIS, terrorists, not-so-secretly supported, and placed in the West Bank deliberately as the shock troops of Israeli expansion and slow-motion ethnic cleansing (genocide-lite).

      The countervailing Arab/Palestinian hostility that must inevitably develop from Zionist expansion-through-brutality. At some point, it can only end badly for the Israelis. But their siege-mentality and righteous religious zeal makes them blind to the suicidal nature of their actions. They are trapped in fear-driven psychotic aggression.

      • Kay24 on January 8, 2019, 7:23 pm

        The level of their viciousness certainly qualifies. The Dwabsheh family, and the little baby whose gruesome murder was celebrated by the evil settlers, comes to mind. Israel never compensated the family for this terrible crime.

  2. Kate on January 8, 2019, 12:31 am

    The NY Times covered it, not badly:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/06/world/middleeast/israel-teenagers-stoning-palestinian.html

    By Isabel Kershner

    Jan. 6, 2019

    JERUSALEM — Several Jewish teenagers have been arrested in connection with the fatal stoning of a Palestinian woman in the West Bank, Israel’s internal security agency said on Sunday.

    The agency, the Shin Bet, said in a statement that the suspects, who were not identified because they are minors, were under investigation for “grave terrorism offenses, including murder.”

    The Palestinian woman, Aisha Rabi, who was in her 40s, was struck in the head by a stone as she rode in a car with her husband and two daughters near the settlement of Rehelim, in the occupied West Bank, on the night of Oct. 12. Her husband, Yaqoub Rabi, who was driving, said at the time that he believed the culprits were Jewish settlers and that he had heard them speaking Hebrew.

    The Shin Bet said Ms. Rabi was the mother of nine children.

    The five suspects are students of Pri Haaretz, a yeshiva high school for Orthodox boys in Rehelim, according to the authorities. The morning after the Friday night attack, the Shin Bet said, activists set out by car from the settlement of Yitzhar for Rehelim, where they briefed the students on how to prepare for, and deal with, Shin Bet interrogations.

    That journey would have aroused suspicion, officials said, since driving on the Sabbath is generally forbidden for observant Jews, and Yitzhar is a religious settlement.

    Lawyers representing three of the detained minors, who were arrested a week ago, were first granted access to them around midnight on Saturday….

  3. Shura on January 8, 2019, 11:30 am

    This kind of savagery deserves life in prison at least

  4. Vera Gottlieb on January 8, 2019, 12:29 pm

    They’ll get a slap on the wrist and set free again. Settlers are doing the dirty job for the Netan-yahoo government.

  5. Ossinev on January 8, 2019, 1:27 pm

    @VeraGottleib
    “They’ll get a slap on the wrist and set free again”
    And the Colonial Goverment in recognition of their brave ” defence ” of Zionism might well pay for the refurbishment as opposed to demolition of their illegal houses.

  6. Mayhem on January 8, 2019, 7:03 pm

    All this moralising over the stoning of a Palestinian woman but when this kind of thing happens to Israeli civilians not a whimper from MW hypocrites. I hark back to the deaths of Asher and Yonatan Palmer in 2011. This was mentioned in this post on MW but nobody expressed any kind of concern over it.
    At least 14 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian stone throwing, including three Arabs who were mistaken for Jews.

    • eljay on January 8, 2019, 7:53 pm

      || Mayhem: All this moralising over the stoning of a Palestinian woman but when this kind of thing happens to Israeli civilians not a whimper from MW hypocrites. I hark back to the deaths of Asher and Yonatan Palmer in 2011. … ||

      Israeli colonists. But you are right to state that:
      – the Palmers should not have been aiding and abetting “Jewish State” colonialism by occupying and colonizing territory outside of Israel’s Partition borders; and
      – the Palestinian perpetrators should have received a fair and impartial trial and been held appropriately accountable for their actions.

      I’m glad we agree on these points.

    • Talkback on January 9, 2019, 9:48 am

      Mayhem: “All this moralising over the stoning of a Palestinian woman but when this kind of thing happens to Israeli civilians not a whimper from MW hypocrites.”

      Well, it is more difficult to condem violence from nativesdagainst colonists who illegaly settle in occupied territory under a violent protection of the occupier who dispossed the natives in the first place. How does the occupier react to “infiltrators” or even people who actually do have a right to return to their homeland? Welcome them?

      So the hypocricsy is more on your side who needs to create a symmetry which doesn’t exist.

  7. Ossinev on January 9, 2019, 10:32 am

    @Mayhem
    ” I hark back to the deaths of Asher and Yonatan Palmer in 2011″

    Do lets hark back then;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_of_Asher_and_Yonatan_Palmer
    Quote:
    “The trial was unusual, because the Office of the Military Advocate does not usually seek murder convictions in stone-throwing incidents, but in this case both the Military advocate charged the rock-thrower, Wa’al al-Arjeh, with murder and the three-judge panel convicted al-Arjeh of intentional murder”.

    So you will no doubt be eager to have the terrorist settlers who committed this atrocity treated just the same oh and their family homes demolished just to maintain consistency. And no doubt you will confirm that to be the case in this thread. Awaiting confirmation.

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