A 16-year-old Israeli settler has been charged with manslaughter over the killing of Palestinian mother Aisha Al-Rabi.
Israel’s Central District Attorney’s Office yesterday filed an indictment against the teen – whose name is under gag order because he is a minor – charging him with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing and intentional sabotage of a vehicle “in the context of a terrorist act”.
The teen could face “considerable jail time” with a maximum sentence of 20 years, the Times of Israel reported, though he has avoided murder charges which could have seen him face life in prison. He will now remain in custody until the completion of legal proceedings.
In filing the indictment, the court confirmed a number of details about the teen and his killing of Aisha Al-Rabi, a 47-year-old mother of eight, on 12 October. The court detailed how he and several other students departed from the Pri Haaretz yeshiva (religious seminary) in the illegal settlement of Rehelim, located on Route 60 south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.
The group then ascended a hill near Tapuah Junction (Za’atara) of Route 60, where the teen “grabbed a large stone weighing roughly two kilogrammes and prepared to hurl it at a Palestinian vehicle, ‘out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere’”. Upon identifying the Palestinian number plate of Al-Rabi’s car, he then hurled the large stone which smashed through the windshield of the passenger side and struck Al-Rabi in the head.
Al-Rabi was rushed to a nearby clinic by her husband Yaqoub, who was driving the car at the time they were attacked, but she died of her wounds shortly afterwards.
During the investigation which followed, the teen’s DNA was found on the stone which killed Al-Rabi. When this evidence was presented in court, the teen finally broke his silence on the incident, enabling yesterday’s indictment to be filed.
That the teen has only been charged with manslaughter will likely be met with anger and seen as yet more evidence that violence by illegal Israeli settlers is treated more leniently than that committed by Palestinians. Israel’s Security Agency Shin Bet has come under fire for the repeated delays in addressing the case, taking over two months to make any arrests. Though five yeshiva students were initially arrested, within days four had been released to house arrest.
Meanwhile right-wing supporters of the teen’s actions have sought to use these delays to their advantage. The boy’s lawyer, Adi Keidar, belongs to the Honenu legal aid group which provides legal assistance to Jewish terror suspects and currently represents Amiram Ben-Uliel, the extremist settler accused of killing the Dawabsheh family in 2015. Ben-Uliel is accused of firebombing the Dawabsheh’s home in the West Bank village of Duma, in which 18-month-old Ali was burned to death and his brother Ahmed left orphaned.
Keidar drew links between the two cases, boasting that if the court indicted his client in the Al-Rabi case “it [would] lead to a scenario in which the case will drag out for a number of years without being solved”. Several testimonies have been thrown out of the Dawabsheh case in the three years since the incident, amid accusations that Shin Bet tortured Ben-Uliel and his under-age accomplice to extract a confession. Supporters of the teen who killed Al-Rabi have made the same claims against Shin Bet, prompting the security agency to issue a statement defending its behaviour and stressing the extremist, “anti-Zionist” nature of the suspects.