Settler who killed Palestinian escapes: Yehoshua Elitzur, 34, from the West Bank settlement of Itamar, who was convicted of shooting and killing Sael Jabara al-Shatiya from the village of Salem about a year ago, has been pronounced a fugitive, Ynet learned Wednesday evening.
Elitzur was at first accused of murder, but was convicted of manslaughter after prosecutors could not prove that he intended to kill.
Elitzur, who was sent to house arrest, did not arrive at the plea stage of his trial in order to determine the verdict, and has been missing since then.
The Judea and Samaria District Police said that "Elitzur has been pronounced a fugitive since last Wednesday. We are searching for him and have distributed his picture to all police stations."
Elitzur's lawyer, Zion Amir, said that he was also surprised when Elitzur did not show up for his court hearing.
"We spoke a few days before the hearing, and the witnesses called to testify on his behalf also arrived at the court, but he did not arrive. I haven’t heard from him and I don’t know where he is," Amir said.
Instructed the driver to stop and shot him
Elitzur was convicted about a month ago of killing al-Shatiya. The incident took place when Elitzur was driving his car on Road 557 toward the Elon Moreh settlement. At the same time, al-Shatiya, 46, was driving a van on a steep dirt track and had approached the road on which Elituzr was driving.
According to the indictment, when Elitzur noticed the van he decided to stop the driver with no authorization. He stopped his car in the middle of the road and got out carrying a fully-loaded M-16 rifle. He stood in the middle of the road and instructed the van to stop. When he saw the van continuing to drive, he approached it and threatened al-Shatiya by pointing his weapon at him at close range.
The indictment claims that due to the road conditions the car could not stop, and al-Shatiya continued driving, turning right toward the shoulders of the road with the intention of stopping there. Elitzur then shot at him once, and the bullet penetrated the car window and killed al-Shatiya.
Farouk al-Shatiya, the victim's uncle, told Ynet after the incident that "The settler killed him for no reason."
"This murder is very painful, but we are not surprised. It is part of a long series of harassments and severe violence on the part of the settlers toward the farmers and local residents. We are ambushed by the settlers on the roads, on the fields and everywhere, and they have turned our lives into one great danger, making it impossible to live," he added.
In his initial investigation Elitzur said that he had thought the van driven by al-Shatiya was trying to "pull him off the road," and that he had then shot at it in order to defend himself. Witnesses that were in the car rejected his claim.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report