Palestinian Parents Say Son Who Stabbed Jewish West Bank Settler 'Did Duty'

Attacker's Brother Ostracized as Israeli Informer

Angry Vigil: Israeli settlers hold vigil at West Bank intersection where Jewish man was stabbed by Palestinian.
getty images
Angry Vigil: Israeli settlers hold vigil at West Bank intersection where Jewish man was stabbed by Palestinian.

By Reuters

Published May 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Ali Zaghal read the mysterious text message early on Tuesday morning with dread: “Forgive me, brother.”

Minutes later, his 21-year-old brother Salam stabbed an Israeli settler waiting at a traffic circle in the occupied West Bank, killing him before being shot and arrested by soldiers.

While the family of the dead settler mourned their loss, the Zaghal family, living in poverty in the north of the Palestinian territory, defended Salam’s action as justified.

“It was destiny, and we take pride in him as a family. What he did is a duty for all Palestinians living with the aggression of the army and settlers,” his elderly father Assad said, sitting with glum relatives in a circle of plastic chairs.

The slaying of 31-year-old Eviatar Borovsky was the first time an Israeli had been killed by a Palestinian in the West Bank since 2011, when seven Israelis died, including a family of two settlers and their three young children all knifed to death.

Nine Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers this year, mostly during clashes with protesters.

While Salam’s deed may bring esteem to his family among some Palestinians, it may not erase an old taint in this run-down village - his brother Abdulfattah’s conviction by Palestinian authorities of spying for Israel.

Israeli security forces say they are investigating whether Salam’s attack was meant to clear the family name, something the family denies. Palestinian society reviles suspected spies and families seldom live down the shame of being linked to one.

The killing appears to encapsulate the contradictions of Palestinian politics in the West Bank - torn between working with a sworn enemy and lashing out violently against it.

OUTPOSTS AND OUTRAGE

Abdulfattah’s 10-year sentence was commuted out of mercy for the impoverished family, a security source said, and he was freed on bail pending an appeal after serving a year in jail.

“I’ve served a year. They said I was informing, but they’re totally wrong and they had no evidence,” said a pensive Abdulfattah, holding prayer beads in his sinewy arm.

Israel relies on a network of Palestinian informants to monitor and arrest suspected militants, and their work has contributed to the years of calm for Israel in the West Bank.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority itself passes intelligence to Israel and has renounced violence against it.

Salam was released from an Israeli jail just two months ago after completing a 3-1/2-year term for planting explosives by Israel’s separation barrier near his village and trying to wrest a gun from a soldier, his family said.

“They let him out of one prison and into what? This open-air prison?” asked his brother Ali.

“He had no job lately and he was talking more and more about the martyrdom of the prisoners in Israeli jail. He felt deeply about their suffering, but he seemed normal,” he said.

Two Palestinian prisoners died in Israeli custody this year. Palestinians say one was tortured to death and the other was denied proper cancer treatment. Israel denies these allegations.

Israeli settlers care little about the attacker’s motives in killing Borovsky, who was a father of five. They have demanded more settlement building on land Palestinians want for a future state, and won a sympathetic hearing from the government.

“The people of Israel must continue to redeem all parts of the land of Israel,” Housing Minister Uri Ariel said at Borovsky’s funeral.

On Wednesday, settlers erected a new makeshift settlement on a hilltop above where Borovsky was killed.

Settlers from his home in Yitzhar, known among Palestinians for their militancy, set fire to fields and threw stones on the day of the attack.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.