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A settler stabbed and killed a Palestinian. Now he’ll carry on life as usual

12:00 Aug 25 2022 Iskaka (إسكاكا, Eskaka) and Israel's Ariel (אֲרִיאֵל‎ * اريئيل) settlement

A settler stabbed and killed a Palestinian. Now he’ll carry on life as usual
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The funeral of Ali Harb, who was stabbed to death by an Israeli settler the previous day, in the village of Iskaka, occupied West Bank, June 22, 2022. (Oren Ziv/Activestills) Published by 972Mag
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By Ziv Stahl for 972Mag
September 5, 2022

On Aug. 25, Israel’s State Prosecutor Office announced its intention to close the investigative file opened following the fatal stabbing of Ali Hassan Harb, a 27-year-old Palestinian man from the village of Iskaka in the north of the occupied West Bank. The closing of the case without an indictment against the offending settler (whose name is prohibited from publication) is further proof of the impunity and protection that Israeli law enforcement provides to Israelis who harm Palestinians, even in cases as serious as murder.

On June 21, 2022, a group of Israeli settlers invaded land that belongs to the villagers of Iskaka with the intention of setting up an illegal outpost. Members of the Harb family and others arrived at the scene to prevent settlers from taking over their olive groves. A verbal confrontation ensued, which Palestinian eyewitnesses say did not involve physical violence on their part. During the incident, a settler stabbed Ali Harb to death.

Hours later, Israeli news site Ynet reported that the police claimed the stabbing may have resulted from an internal conflict among the Palestinians and not a confrontation with the settlers. This false claim, which the police were not ashamed to release even before Harb had been buried, was apparently the first indicator of the conduct to be expected in the investigation.

It later became clear that the Israeli authorities were investing the bulk of their energy in trying to clear the name of the army, in part by refuting the claim of the Palestinian eyewitnesses that the incident took place in front of Israeli soldiers who did nothing to prevent the stabbing or to arrest the culprit after the fact. According to eyewitnesses, Harb did not die immediately, but rather after soldiers prevented his family from reaching his side or rushing him to the hospital.

In the days after the stabbing, Israel’s security forces outdid themselves by invading the homes of members of the Harb family and other eyewitnesses from the village and arresting them. Israeli investigators tried to convince them to retract the claim that soldiers were present at the scene and that the army delayed assistance to the victim. They were soon released without charge.

Now, two months into the investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office has decided to close the case on grounds of “insufficient evidence,” because, in their words, “it was not possible to rule out [the suspect’s] version that he acted in self-defense.” However, it seems that the killer did not act the way any reasonable person who is left with no choice but to take a life — as a last resort of self-protection — would.

First of all, he did not turn himself in to the police and instead ran from the scene. Even after it was revealed that the police were looking for the offender and found the knife used in the stabbing, he continued with his daily routine. What’s more, in photos taken in the moments before the stabbing, a person who the Palestinian eyewitnesses identify as the culprit is seen with a rubber glove on one of his hands.

The settler was finally arrested on suspicion of murder and obstruction of justice only a day after the incident, when he arrived at the police station to file a counter-complaint against the Palestinians. It is likely that by then he had consulted with a lawyer to formulate a course of action.

A number of testimonies taken by police from others at the scene also contradicted the suspect’s claim that he was in danger. A video from moments before the stabbing shows that shouts and curses were exchanged between the parties, but there was no physical violence. The documentation also shows that there were armed security guards from the Ariel settlement at the scene; this is in addition to the claims by eyewitnesses that Israeli soldiers were present too.

If there had been a real threat to the life of the culprit or others, the security guards would surely have acted to protect the Israeli citizens. The fact that no one was injured in the incident except for Ali Harb sows further doubt concerning the version of events as told by the offender, who claimed that he had to defend himself and others.

Yet despite all this, the Prosecutor’s Office closed the investigation file.

The case closure is, first and foremost, heartbreaking news for Ali Harb’s parents; although their son will never return, they at least had hopes that his killer would pay a heavy price. At the same time, the closing of this case sends a clear message to settlers: whoever harms Palestinians will not be held accountable.

Palestinians know that their blood is cheap in the eyes of Israeli authorities, and the impunity that the system grants to Israelis who harm Palestinians extends far beyond this single case. According to Yesh Din’s data, 92 percent of police files investigated between 2005-2021 in incidents of ideologically motivated crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians were closed with no indictment filed. Eighty-one percent of these cases were closed in circumstances indicating a failed and negligent investigation.

The offending settler, who entered the Harb family’s lands with the aim of usurping them by erecting an illegal outpost, confronted the family who wanted to drive him and his gang away and killed a young man with the swing of a knife — and now he will continue his life as if nothing happened.

It is clear to everyone that if the situation was reversed — if the stabber had been Palestinian and the victim Israeli — the suspect would have been arrested immediately, if the security guards had not decided to shoot him on the spot. He would have been designated a terrorist, an indictment for murder would have been filed against him, he would have been sentenced to a long prison term, and the army would likely have destroyed his parents’ house.

But alas, the settler who killed Ali Harb belongs to a special group of Israeli civilians in the West Bank that enjoys a variety of privileges, including a license to commit harm and even kill without consequence.

Ziv Stahl is the executive director of Yesh Din.
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Israel Closes Case Against Settler Suspected of Fatally Stabbing Palestinian

The investigation into the murder of 27-year-old Ali Hassan Harb was closed by the state prosecution, saying that self-defense could not be ruled out

Hagar Shezaf for Haaretz
Aug 25, 2022

Israel’s State Prosecutor announced on Thursday that it will not press charges against a Jewish resident of the West Bank who fatally stabbed a Palestinian man earlier this summer, saying that “the claim of self-defense could not be ruled out.”

The incident occurred in late June near the settlement of Ariel, when 27-year-old Ali Hassan Harb was stabbed in the chest and later died of his injuries.

According to an Israeli security source, several Israelis that were part of a settler-youth group had arrived to set up an outpost at the entrance of Ariel, near lands belonging to the Harb family. Ali made his way to the area after noticing the group, and was stabbed by one of the settlers.

The suspect was arrested a day later, though a court placed a gag order on the details of the investigation. Initially, it was reported that the settler was suspected of murder, but police sources told Haaretz in June that the suspect would not be charged with that offense. Instead, he would potentially be charged with reckless homicide.

In addition, the source said that investigators are looking into the suspect’s version of the events, where he claims the stabbing was self-defense, following witnesses and evidence that suggest Palestinians attacked the youth group with stones.

A security guard from Ariel was present during the fatal incident, and Palestinians allege that additional Israeli security personnel were also present at the scene. Several days after the stabbing, three of Harb’s relatives were arrested and interrogated by the Shin Bet security service over their claims that the Israeli police and military were present at the scene of the attack.

“We welcome the decision to close the case against the suspect,” said Adi Keidar, a lawyer for the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu who is representing the suspect. He added that the youth group “were kids whose only sin was holding an educational event in a spot near Ariel.”

Yesh Din, a human rights organization representing the Harb family, criticized the decision to close the case, saying the investigation “was done in two months, with scare tactics and threats against both the family and witnesses. The suspect’s version of events contradicts statements given from witnesses.”

Naim Harb, Ali’s uncle, reacted to the decision, calling the Israeli government a “government of settlers that uses the law to protect them.”

The State Prosecutor released a statement saying that “after reviewing evidence in the case, including statements from those involved in the incident…the decision was made to close the case since the claim of self-defense could not be ruled out.”
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Police close case against settler suspected of killing Palestinian in June

Rights group representing Ali Harb’s family slams decision, citing ‘abundance of evidence’; Israeli man’s lawyer says he acted in self-defense

By EMANUEL FABIAN for The Times of Israel
25 August 2022, 6:56 pm

Police prosecutors have decided to close a case against a settler suspected of stabbing a Palestinian man to death in June, a rights group representing the victim’s family said Thursday.

Palestinian witnesses said Ali Hassan Harb, a 27-year-old engineer, was stabbed in the chest by a settler on the outskirts of his hometown of Iskaka in the northern West Bank on June 21. A group of Israelis had arrived in the area with construction materials in an apparent attempt to build a new illegal outpost.

The 44-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of murder and obstruction of justice after he turned up at a local police station a day later, in order to submit a counter-complaint. The Israeli man’s lawyer said his client had narrowly survived an assault by dozens of Palestinians.

“Despite the abundance of evidence that reinforces the suspicion of premeditated murder by the settler, and contradicts his claim that he acted in self-defense, the prosecutor’s office announced today that the case is expected to be closed due to a lack of evidence, without an indictment against the suspect,” the Yesh Din rights group said in a statement.

Harb’s death was investigated by both the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police’s Nationalist Crimes Unit in the Judea and Samaria Division, which often investigates Jewish extremist violence.

Yesh Din railed against the investigation, which it said included “intimidation and threats against Ali Harb’s family members and other witnesses,” referring to three Palestinians who were arrested after they allegedly participated in the confrontation.

A lawyer from the Honenu legal aid organization representing the settler said the decision to close the case was “inevitable.”

“The suspect stood as a buffer between Arab rioters who took the law into their own hands and decided to attack a group of children whose only sin was participating in an educational activity in an area adjacent to the city of Ariel, which does not belong to the rioters, who chased, attacked and threw stones,” said lawyer Adi Kedar.

“My client had to defend himself and the children against this savage attack. The rioters and the family members of the deceased have nothing but themselves to complain about,” Kedar added.

Israeli officials told The Times of Israel last year that Jewish extremist violence in the West Bank was on the rise. The number of attacks rose in 2021 by nearly 50 percent, according to the Shin Bet.

Most of the cases are never solved. Between 2005 and 2021, just 7% of investigations into extremist violence against Palestinians have led to indictments, according to Yesh Din.

“The Israeli law enforcement system continues to provide criminals who harm Palestinians immunity from justice, even when they take a person’s life,” Yesh Din said Thursday.

Settler leaders have condemned some of the most brazen attacks, such as an incident near the outpost of Givat Ronen in which masked figures torched a car belonging to left-wing Israeli activists. They also say that the phenomenon is dwarfed by the number of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.


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On Aug 15, 2022, Israeli court drops case against Israeli settler accused to killing Palestinian, Ali Harb.
On Aug 15, 2022, Israeli court drops case against Israeli settler accused to killing Palestinian, Ali Harb.
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