Three family members of the 27-year-old Palestinian, who was killed at the hands of an Israeli settler in Salfit in the occupied West Bank, were arrested yesterday morning by Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency.
The family members, identified as Ali Hassan Harb's uncle, Naim, an accountant employed by the Palestinian Authority, Naim's son, Firas, and Zaid Harb, who is also the stabbed Palestinian's cousin, were all present at the scene of the murder when it occurred in the heart in the village of Iskaka, near Salfit.
An Israeli security official confirmed the arrests to The Times of Israel, but refused to elaborate on why the three Palestinians had been detained. Meanwhile, the Shin Bet also declined to comment.
"Three of Harb's family members who witnessed the incident were arrested, and we still don't know why or where they are," Iskaka Mayor, Osama Zaher claimed in the phone call.
Ali was pronounced dead when he arrived at the Martyr Yasser Arafat Hospital in Salfit, the Health Ministry said.
The group of settlers who killed Ali, was attacking the family's land which is adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Ariel, and were dislodging a wooden house the family had built there.
Moreover, eyewitnesses were quoted by Wafa news agency, as saying that Israeli occupation soldiers in the area had "protected the settlers and prevented Palestinians from tending to Harb for one hour, causing him to bleed to death."
Ahmad Harb, who dragged his cousin's body away from the scene, said, "The army, the settlement guards, the police, they were all there. They watched while he was stabbed and then prevented us from reaching him for 20 minutes," said Ahmad.
Settler attacks on Palestinian properties have increased in recent years with occupation forces protecting the attackers and arresting Palestinians who protect their land.