Police cover-up?
Indictment Filed: 'Murdered Because He Was a Jew'

Details on roadside murder of Avraham Ben-Tzion strengthen claims he was targeted as an Israeli Jew, say lawyer and family.

Ari Yashar ,

Avraham Ben-Tzion hy''d
Avraham Ben-Tzion hy''d
Courtesy of the family

An indictment was submitted on Tuesday in the shocking case of 63-year-old Avraham Ben-Tzion hy''d, who was murdered in a pre-planned hit-and-run attack by Arab assailants in Samaria last month that sparked outraged after Israeli authorities classified it as a crime and not a terror attack.

The indictment was submitted to a military court against the three suspects, Amir Juwad Hamad Bani Jaber, Nadbar Basam Abd Alhamid Abu Katab and Mohammed Basam Tahar Bani Gama - all three are young residents of the village Akraba.

They are accused of intentional manslaughter, robbery by force, abandoning after wounding, disrupting judicial proceedings and trading in stolen cars and parts.

The three have already admitted they planned to attack their victim, spray him with tear gas and steal his car - in stealing Ben-Tzion's car at Alon Junction they ran him over and critically wounded him, leaving him to die of his injuries the following day.

From the facts of the case presented in the indictment, it becomes clear that the three suspects left their village on December 1, 2014, with the goal of stealing an Israeli car on a road frequented by Jewish drivers. They planned to hit the back of a car with their vehicle, hoping the driver would stop and get out, at which point two of them would steal the car by force.

After leaving their village they spotted Ben-Tzion driving and followed him to Alon Junction, where they hit his car causing him to exit the vehicle and approach their car; he then shook the hand of one of them and started talking to them.

One of the suspects then got out of their car and sprayed Ben-Tzion in the eyes with tear gas, while another got into Ben-Tzion's car and drove ahead a few meters before performing a U-turn, as did the other two in their car - in doing so they hit Ben-Tzion and knocked him onto the ground, running over his body and then backing up before fleeing the scene.

It was pointed out in the indictment that the three saw Ben-Tzion lying wounded on the road and still chose to flee the scene without helping him. They later hid the stolen car in an olive orchard, disconnected the locating devices of the car and sold its parts.

Struggling to get Ben-Tzion recognized as a terror victim

Ben-Tzion's family two weeks ago launched a campaign to have him recognized as a victim of a terror attack - that campaign has included signs and events to raise awareness about the horrific murder.

The Legal Forum for Israel has slammed the police for covering up a terrorist act of murder, and the chairmen of 20 regional councils in Judea and Samaria have likewise called for Ben-Tzion's murder to be recognized as a terrorist attack in a letter to the security establishment, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud).

Ben-Tzion's widow Niva Ben-Tzion said after the indictment was filed on Tuesday "in recent weeks we are crying Avi's (Ben-Tzion's - ed.) cry. Today we received strengthening."

She noted "Avi was robbed because he's Israeli and a Jew and was murdered because he's Israeli and a Jew. In the indictment we see that the terrorist didn't look for any car, but rather precisely an Israeli car where Jews travel; now it is clear to everyone that the circumstances of the murder are nationalistic."

"We call on the authorities to do the obvious and recognize the murder as a murder from nationalistic motives," added the bereaved widow. "We thank the police, the attorney and the security sources for the quick arrest of the murderers and for filing the indictment."

Attorney Hur Uriel of the Honenu legal aid group, who is representing the Ben-Tzion family, said "the military prosecutor established clearly that the circumstances of the murder of the deceased are nationalistic circumstances."

"The serious indictment submitted today that includes crimes of the highest seriousness has a clear expression and strengthening to the claims of the family until now," he added, arguing the circumstances of the crime establish its definition as a terrorist attack.