Following the terrorist murder of IDF St.-Sgt. Ihab Khatib at the Tapuach Junction on Wednesday, the security forces arrested several family members of the murderer, Mouhmad Khatib. The arrestees included five of his brothers and cousins. The army is also preparing to destroy his home, as is customary with terrorist murderers.
Despite the similarities in the names of the murderer and his victim, the two are not related. The names are pronounced almost the same, but the murderer’s name is spelled with the equivalent of the Hebrew letter khof, which has a dot on it in Arabic, while the victim’s name uses the dot-less version of the same letter, pronounced similarly to the Hebrew letter chet (het).
The victim, Ihab Khatib, lived in the Druze village of M’rar (Majhar) in the Galilee, which has known its share of tragedies. His sister was killed in a Katyusha attack during the Second Lebanon War, and a brother was killed in a car accident while he was serving in the IDF. Azzam Azzam, who sat in Egyptian prison for eight years on charges of spying for Israel - which he denied - is from M’rar; he was released in 2004.
Khatib, a policeman in the Palestinian Authority force, murdered the soldier in a stabbing attack near the Jewish community of Tapuach in the Shomron (Samaria). He explained afterwards that he had become “sick of life.” Ironically, terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails are often treated to luxuries that they never had “on the outside,” such as higher education.
Hesder Yeshiva Grad Catches Murderer
Though many soldiers and Border Guard officers were at the scene of the attack, the murderer was caught by none other than a civilian security officer of the nearby Jewish town of Rechelim, Yossi Margalit. A graduate of the hesder yeshiva Har Brachah, Margalit jumped into his vehicle when he saw the attack and was able to run down the terrorist, who was lightly hurt. Margalit then jumped out, and together with others, tied and held him until security forces arrived to make the arrest.
Yeshivat Har Brachah has been in the news of late because Defense Minister Ehud Barak removed it from the Hesder program. Barak claimed that the yeshiva head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, both supported refusal of orders to destroy Jewish homes and evict their residents, and did not condemn in-army protests strongly enough. The decision to cancel Rabbi Melamed’s association with Hesder was initiated by a top IDF officer who took umbrage at the rabbi’s sharp criticism of top army brass.
Several major terrorist attacks have been stopped by graduates of religious-Zionist yeshivot of late, including the massacre at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav and the two Jerusalem “tractor terror” attacks.