Israeli authorities yesterday released four Israeli settlers held on suspicion of involvement in the killing of a Palestinian mother in October, placing them under house arrest.
Forty-seven-year old Aisha Muhammad Talal Al-Rabi – a mother of eight from Bidya, near Salfit in the north of the occupied West Bank – was killed and her husband injured after Israeli settlers hurled rocks at their vehicle near the Tapuah Junction (Za'atara), south of Nablus.
Israeli authorities arrested five settler youths on 30 December but only confirmed that they had been detained earlier this week due to a gag order.
According to a statement by Shin Bet, the remand of the fifth Israeli settler has been extended for another six days.
Shin Bet added that the five settlers – who are students at the Pri Haaretz religious seminary in the Rechelim settlement, near Nablus, were arrested "after intelligence efforts connecting them to the death of Al-Rabi".
"Four were released after it was decided that the investigation could continue while they were under house arrest and other limiting conditions," Shin Bet added.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the killing of Al-Rabi, calling it "a heinous crime that cannot go unpunished".
Palestinian towns and villages in the Nablus area are surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements and outposts, many of which are protected by the Israeli military.
The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.