Was murder of elderly Jewish man in Arab town act of terrorism?

As family of slain Jewish man found dead in Arab town mourn, few answers regarding the murder. Funeral planned for Friday afternoon.

David Rosenberg, | updated: 20:56

Reuven Shmerling
Reuven Shmerling

A day after a 70-year-old Jewish man was found murdered in an Arab town in central Israel, questions remain regarding the nature of his murder and the details of the gruesome slaying.

The victim, Reuven Shmerling, a long-time resident of Elkana in western Samaria, was found dead Wednesday afternoon in a factory he owns in the industrial zone of nearby Kfar Qasim.

The body was found by one of Shmerling’s four children, who quickly notified authorities.

Emergency first responders who were dispatched to the scene declared Shmerling dead, and noted that there were signs of violence on the body suggesting he had been murdered. Authorities added that there were also cuts on the victim's head.

"When we arrived at the scene we were led to a building where we found a man of about seventy lying unconscious,” said MDA paramedic Adi Marciano. “He was not breathing and had no heartbeat. We performed medical tests and he did not show any signs of life. We were forced to declare his death at the scene."

Residents of Elkana told Arutz Sheva that Shmerling had recently performed the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services as cantor (Hazzan) in the Moreshet Yehudit synagogue in Elkana.

Shmerling, who is survived by his wife, Hana, their 4 children, and 19 grandchildren, was to have celebrated his 70th birthday on Wednesday. Locals say the family had gotten together at the victim’s home for the Sukkot holiday and to celebrate his birthday. The family even printed out special novelty shirts to mark Shmerling’s birthday.

Censors have placed a media blackout on publication of details on the ongoing investigation into Shmerling’s murder.

Police indicated that employees working at Shmerling’s factory are suspected in the murder, but have yet to confirm if the killing was a nationalistic attack, or related to some financial dispute.

On Thursday night, the Elkana Local Council announced that Shmerling would be laid to rest at the Elkana cemetery Friday afternoon. The funeral procession is scheduled to leave the Moreshet Yehudit synagogue in the ‘80’ neighborhood of Elkana at 1:45 p.m. Friday.

Below: Police search Kfar Qasim industrial zone where Shmerling's body was found.