An Israeli military court convicted on Tuesday a Palestinian youth from Awarta village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, of stabbing to death five family members of the Itamar settlement, nearly five months ago. The attack left a settler father, mother and three of their children. The youth was identified as Hakim Awwad, 18.
The slain family members have been identified as Ehud Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and three of their six children, Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, a three-month-old infant.
Israeli Ynet News reported that Awwad confessed to charges filed against him and against another youth, identified as Amjad Awwad. The court will convene again in a few months to issue its verdict.
The Israeli Security Forces also arrested six other Palestinians from Awarta under the claim that they hid evidence and aided the assailants. Dozens of women, men and youth were detained and interrogated.
Hakim and Amjad are said to be supporters of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), yet, there is no indication whatsoever that the PFLP is part of the attack, as all reports indicate that they acted on their own.
Israel claims that one of the other detained residents had asked the PFLP to provide him with a weapon to carry out a shooting attack against Israeli soldiers and settlers, while another youth from the central West Bank city of Ramallah was arrested for hiding one of the weapons at his place.
According to Israeli investigations, Amjad and Hakim decided to carry out the attack just a few hours before actually going ahead with their plan.
The investigations also indicated that the two left the village at 9 at night, under the rain, and headed towards the settlement that is only 10 minutes away on foot as it was mainly built on lands that belong to the villages of Awarta.
The two are said to have infiltrated the settlement after climbing up a security fence surrounding it, and that they snatched an F-16 Automatic rifle and several magazines from a settler home they broke into before heading to the home of “Fogel” family.
Four family members were stabbed to death while the fifth was shot dead but the sound of gunfire was not heard due to climate conditions.
The two reportedly left the settlement approximately at 11 PM; the attack was not uncovered until an hour and a half later when one of the daughters of the family returned home.
Israeli interrogators claim that the two youths arrived at the home of Hakim’s uncle, Salah Awwad, a former political prisoner and a PFLP member, and that he helped them in hiding the knives used in the attack and in burning the clothes they wore.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that at first, the investigation focused on “Qawareeq” family from Awarta, as two of its members were killed by the Israeli forces a year earlier, but five days later, Hakim Awwad became a “subject of interest”.
Haaretz added that, during the interrogation of Hakim, his father, uncles and brother were arrested for “hiding and destroying evidence”.
It is worth mentioning that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and several leaders of different Palestinian factions, strongly denounced the attack.