Ahmed Nakib, the main suspect in the kidnapping of 7-year-old Karim Jumhour of Qalansawe, claimed Thursday he is not connected to the abduction and does not know why he was arrested.
"I have no hand or foot in it, I have no idea why they attacked me, I don't know the child, they just arrested me," he said in court.
The 41-year-old contractor was arrested along with three others. The four are suspected of kidnapping for the purpose of committing murder or extortion and of conspiring to commit a crime. The Rishon LeZion Magistrate's Court extended their arrests by 15 days.
Karim was playing with a young relative outside his home when a vehicle pulled up next to them. The driver asked the boys a few questions before a masked man emerged from the vehicle and forced Karim into the car. They then fled the scene. Karim’s friend then ran into the family's home screaming “a kidnapping!”
The Jumhour family says that had the other boy not been present, they would not have known Karim was kidnapped. Authorities suspect the boy was taken to the West Bank.
The boy said one of the passengers told them the car had money for Karim's father, Jabar Jumhour. "There's money here for Jabar, and there's something big in the back, open the door," one of the passengers told them, according to the boy.
After two days of searching, Nakib was arrested at a checkpoint near the village of Ni'lin.
Police learned that the contractor had previously carried out works for the father of the kidnapped child, and Nakib is suspected of having ordered the kidnapping because of a financial debt owed by the father.
During police questioning, Nakib denied any connection to the abduction and claimed he did not know where Karim was.
The commander of the Police's Central District, Dudu Buani, who arrived at the remand hearing on Thursday, said he was "optimistic" about finding Karim.
Tal Adler of the Central District Police presented Judge Ayala Oren with confidential documents concerning the investigation.
"This is a very serious incident of the kidnapping of a child. We're working day and night, and there are still many ongoing (search) operations," she said.
Nakib's attorney, Shukri Abu Tabik, urged the court to release his client. "The suspect provided a detailed version (to the police). He reported where he had been in recent days, which the police could verify. While other suspects were arrested, my client has no connection to them. There were no phone conversation between the suspect and the father of the child. When he learned he was wanted for questioning, he came of his own initiative," the lawyer said.
Criminals in Arab sector help search
Meanwhile, "senior" criminals from the Arab sectors are helping police search for Karim, condemning the kidnapping of a child as a "red line."
"We don't touch children," said one of them. "We certainly don't kidnap a child from his home because of a dispute involving his father. It's unacceptable. We don't know such a thing."
In the meantime, Jumhour’s mother asked for public support and appealed to those responsible for the kidnapping.
“I’m asking everyone to support our son, so he will be returned to our family. I am fearful of his well-being—but I cannot do anything. I want at least to hear his voice. I am appealing to the kidnappers. You have wives and children—are you prepared to go through the suffering I’m going through? Give me my son back,” vented the mother.
Jumhour’s uncle also expressed his feeling on the tragic event.
“We’re very worried and we’re doing everything in order to try and bring him back. Our lives have become very difficult since the incident. We don’t sleep, we don’t eat and we don’t go to work,” he exclaimed.
Diya Tayeh, a Qalansawe resident, said the people in the city will do everything in order to help the family and criticized the government for its lack of effort.
“We will not be silenced. On Wednesday we demonstrated outside a local police station and today we’ll continue the fight. If they won’t bring back the child—we’ll block traffic. They know how to demolish houses but not to save a child. If he was Jewish, they would have turned the world on its head. We would have seen a statement from the prime minister, who hasn’t addressed this situation so far. It’s a discrimination but we won’t give up,” raged the resident.
The demonstration continued on Thursday as well, with around 200 people demonstrating near the police station in Tayibe, in support of Karim. The protest was attended by MK Ayman Odeh (the Joint List).
The protesters blocked traffic for a short period of time and called to bring the boy back.
The police say they’ve been working tirelessly around the clock and the criticism directed at them is unfair.
“We’ve been working around the clock, using the best forces at our disposal and all possible means—technology and intelligence, negotiating teams and special units, everything in order to return the child back to the family safe and sound and to prosecute those responsible,” said a police statement.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, is said to be personally monitoring the progress of the investigation and the police efforts to bring the child back safely.
The police also emphasized the public should not take seriously the malicious rumors regarding the incident.
“We would like to clarify and emphasize that rumors from unauthorized sources shouldn’t be taken seriously. The Israel Police asks the public to refrain from spreading rumors that could jeopardize the investigation and the efforts to locate the child and bring him back to his family," concluded the statement.