Palestinians arrested over alleged murder of Israeli father and son
Israeli security forces have arrested several Palestinian suspects over the murder of a rabbi and his son near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, the army said Sunday.
The army, in a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency, did not disclose the number of people arrested, but added that “forces also located the weapon and vehicle used to execute the attack”.
It said in the statement that one of the suspects “during the investigation … associated himself in the involvement in the attack” on Friday in the occupied West Bank.
The 40-year-old father and 18-year-old son, Yaakov and Netanel Litman, were ambushed and shot dead as they drove near the Jewish settlement of Otniel, south of Hebron, in the bloodiest attack on Israelis in nearly a month.
There were a total of seven people in the car, and a woman and a 16-year-old were also wounded, Israeli media reported. The army said the Israeli family was on its way to a Sabbath dinner at the time.
Their murders sparked a manhunt, with soldiers backed by air units deploying in the neighboring Palestinian communities of Yatta and As Samou.
Controversy also broke out on Sunday over an allegation by Litman’s wife that a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance stopped at the scene but did not help the wounded.
The Red Crescent denied the allegation.
The claim drew a response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who asked the foreign ministry to file a protest with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and request explanations.
“If things are indeed as they seem to me today, the state of Israel will take appropriate steps against the Red Crescent,” which is a member of the ICRC, Netanyahu said in a statement.
Azzam Nimar, Red Crescent emergency center director for Jerusalem, told AFP they had been refused entry by the Israeli military.
“Our ambulance reached the scene, and the military refused to allow them and threatened them and told them to leave,” he said. “They left the area according to the army’s orders.”
“Our mission is to provide care to anybody who needs it. We don’t look at religion. We have provided care for Jews many times.”
Nimar said that the Israeli army has often delayed access to scenes of attacks.
Violence since the start of October has killed 81 people on the Palestinian side – including one Arab Israeli – and 12 Israelis.
Many of the Palestinians killed were alleged attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes.
The shooting deaths of two settlers in front of their children in the northern West Bank on October 1 was the first incident in the weeks-long wave of gun, knife and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians.