'It was obvious to us that the murder was a terror attack'

Mayor of Elkana says crime scene, kind of violence inflicted on elderly resident, made it clear that murder was a terror attack.

David Rosenberg,

Reuven Shmerling laid to rest in Elkana
Reuven Shmerling laid to rest in Elkana

After the Shin Bet internal security agency announced the capture of two Palestinian Authority Arabs suspected in the murder of Reuven Shmerling last week, family and community leaders said there was never a shadow of a doubt in their minds that the killing was in fact a terror attack.

On Sunday, the Shin Bet cleared for publication the arrest of two Arab suspects from the PA-controlled town of Qabatiya, near Jenin, in northern Samaria.

The two suspected terrorists were nabbed Thursday, a day after 70-year-old Reuven Shmerling was found beaten and stabbed to death at his warehouse in the industrial zone of Kfar Qasim, near his home town of Elkana in western Samaria.

While police had initially suggested that Shmerling’s murder may have been related to a business dispute, on Sunday Shin Bet officials confirmed that all evidence gathered in the ongoing investigation pointed suggested the killing was part of a planned terror attack.

“Evidence gathered thus far by the [Shin Bet] indicates that this was a terrorist attack carried out for a nationalist motive,” the Shin Bet said in a statement Sunday.

Elkana Mayor Assaf Mintzer, however, said Sunday that there was never any doubt that Shmerling’s murder had nothing to do with money, and was simply a cold-blooded act of terrorism.

“From the beginning, it was obvious to the family and to the residents of Elkana that this brutal murder was done by evil people for nationalistic reasons,” Mintzer said.

“Everyone who knew the murdered man, his values, his good nature, or is familiar with his hometown of Elkana, understood from the get-go that this was a nationalistic terrorist attack. The horrifying murder scene and the way the murder was committed left no doubt about that.”

Mintzer added that residents of Elkana and relatives of the slain man appreciated the security forces’ swift work in apprehending the murderers, adding that he expected the army to take “serious action” against all those responsible.

“We thank the security forces, including the Shin Bet internal security agency, the IDF, and the police, for catching the murderers. We expect that serious action will be taken against the terrorists and those who sent them.”

The Shmerling family also responded to the Shin Bet announcement in a public statement.

“The family received the news from security forces of their capture of the murderers with appreciation and satisfaction. The family would like to take the opportunity to thank the security forces for all the efforts they made over this short period of time. The family would also like to thank the community of Elkana and all those supporting [the family] from various walks of life for the love and support they have shown us. The family will be welcoming condolence calls during the mourning period [Shiva] beginning after the Simhat Torah holiday. For the time being, the family has asked for privacy while they grieve.”

Shmerling was laid to rest Friday afternoon in the Elkana cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Hana, their 4 children, and their 19 grandchildren.