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Sgt. Ron Kokia
Bedouin municipal heads condemn murder of Sgt. Ron Kokia
'We share your pain and strongly condemn the act,' Rahat mayor tells Arad mayor after two Bedouins arrested for murder of IDF soldier. 'The murder of an innocent soldier is unacceptable to us,' he adds.

Bedouin municipal heads in the Negev arrived at the office of Arad's mayor on Tuesday to condemn the murder of Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kokia by two Bedouin men from the area.

 

 

The Bedouin mayors are worried the fragile coexistence that has lasted for years in Arad would be unraveled. Many of the Bedouin residents in the area do their shopping in Arad, but many business owners in the city noted many Bedouins are now avoiding the commercial area of the city.

 

"This case shocked everyone," said Hura council head Dr. Muhammad Al-Nabari during the meet with Arad's Mayor Nissan Ben Hamo. "The message from the Bedouin society must be clear: We must condemn it."

 

Bedouin municipal heads meet with Arad mayor (Photo: Irit Eshet Mor)
Bedouin municipal heads meet with Arad mayor (Photo: Irit Eshet Mor)
 

"We share your pain and strongly condemn the act," said Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi. "The murder of an innocent soldier is unacceptable to us, and we denounce this case. We've been living in coexistence and comradeship for 70 years. This case shocks us no less than it shocks you. We do not educate to that. How did this happen? We must look inwards. Generalizations should not be made, and negative elements must be rooted out."

 

The Bedouin municipal heads expressed their condolences to the Kokia family and to the entire city of Arad.

 

The head of the Ar'arat an-Naqab council, Naif Abu Arar, proposed to hold a march to protest the murder in his town. "We're working to strengthen the coexistence and strongly condemn the incident," he said.

 

Jaber Abu Kaf, the head of the Al-Kasom Regional Council, added: "We need to influence the education of our children. We need to watch over our children, see what they're doing and what they're reading."

 

Sgt. Ron Kokia
Sgt. Ron Kokia

 

Ben-Hamo thanked the Bedouin mayors, telling them: "As public leaders, the condemnation and your clear message that this was done by negative elements are both important. We've grown with the Bedouin community, and even when the country was rocked by all sorts of intifadas, there was quiet in Arad. We do so many wonderful things together in the Negev, and there is no reason for that not to continue."

 

Relatives of the two suspects arrested for Kokia's murder still refuse to believe they were involved.

 

"I condemn everything that happened, I also cried for the soldier. I don't believe it's them," one relative said. "All night, I sat by the bonfire and cried. God take whoever did this."

 

President Reuven Rivlin visited the Kokia family on Tuesday to offer his condolences to the grieving family.

 

Boaz, the slain soldier's family, told the president of his own military service in the Paratroopers' Brigade as well as his sons' service in the Paratroopers and the Nahal brigades.

 

President Rivlin embraces Boaz Kokia, the soldier's father (Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Rivlin embraces Boaz Kokia, the soldier's father (Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO)

 

The president expressed his sorrow at the terrible loss the family had suffered, saying "Why have we come to this point, instead of coming to be with you in your family celebrations?"

 

"We will carry on, because that is the legacy of the fallen. We will live, and act and carry on," the father responded.

 

Rivlin was moved by the father's words, saying "I am speechless. I came to comfort you, and there you are, like a true Paratroopers company commander, giving us strength."

 

Itamar Eichner contributed to this story.

 

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