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Palestinians Who Killed Elderly Israeli Were Avenging Terrorist Friend’s Death

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two West Bank Palestinian men indicted for the murder of an Israeli man in an Arab-Israeli city told Israeli investigators that they decided to stab a Jew to death to avenge the death of a friend.

Youssef Khaled Mustafa Kamil, 20, and Muhammad Ziad Abu al-Rub, 19, of the West Bank city of Qabatiya, were indicted Sunday in Lod District Court for premeditated murder and entering Israel illegally, the Israel Security Agency said in a statement, following a three-week gag order on the case.

The men were arrested a day after the body of Reuven Schmerling, 70, was discovered on Oct. 4 in a storage unit in Kafr Kassem’s industrial area, reportedly bearing signs of extreme violence, including stab wounds. Schmerling, who lived in the West Bank settlement of Elkana, owned a coal business in Kafr Kassem.

Schmerling had turned 70 the day his body was found. His friends and family were planning to celebrate the occasion the following day in Elkana.

The two Palestinian men had entered Israel illegally two weeks prior to the murder, and remained in Israel the entire time, according to the Israel Security Agency, also known as the Shin Bet.

They told security investigators they were avenging the death of Ahmed Abu al-Roub, who was killed in November 2015 while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on soldiers at a West Bank crossing.

The two purchased a knife in advance and outlined their attack, including their escape back into Judea and Samaria, according to the Israel Security Agency.

During the investigation, information was obtained about additional plans to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, together with additional suspects from Qabatiya, whose investigation is ongoing.

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