Shin Bet investigating allegations settlers stoned Palestinian woman
Aisha al-Rawbi's husband claims she was killed when settlers pelted their vehicle with stones; Abbas calls her a martyr who sacrificed for her homeland; Israeli security forces fear increase in Jewish revenge attacks after 2 terror attacks.
The Shin Bet internal security service is investigating the death of Aisha al-Rawbi, 47, the Palestinian woman killed in a car accident in the West Bank, allegedly after the vehicle she was riding in was pelted with stones by Jewish settlers near the Tapuach Junction.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said al-Rawbi was “one of the martyrs who sacrificed their blood for the sake of their homeland and their people," in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
"This is a very ugly crime committed by the settlers in the defense of the occupying state," Abbas said, adding that "our people will continue to stand firm on its land, no matter how many victims. These crimes will not harm the determination of our people to continue on their path to freedom and independence; to establish an independent state with its eternal capital, Jerusalem."
A doctor at the Palestinian hospital Aisha al-Rawbi was brought to said the woman was dead on arrival and that she had suffered a head injury. Her relatives said an autopsy will be carried out.
On Saturday, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court issued a gag order on the investigation into the incident in which Rawbi, a Palestinian resident of the northern West Bank village of Biddya, was killed. Her husband and nine-year-old daughter were in the car as well. She was laid to rest on Saturday.
In recent days, following the two terror attacks in the West Bank, defense officials have been concerned of a possible increase in Jewish revenge attacks against Palestinians. For the time being, there is no known detainee, nor is it clear whether Jews are indeed responsible for the tragedy.
The investigation is being handled by the Judea and Samaria District Police, in cooperation with the Jewish Division of the Shin Bet, which is responsible for nationalistic crime committed by Jews against Arabs.
The victim's husband, Aykube al-Rawbi, 52, said he went to pick up his wife after attending a family wedding in Hebron.
"(We were) on our way home, and as we approached the Tapuach checkpoint, a big rock was thrown at our vehicle, hitting my wife in the head," he said.
He decided to take his wife to the hospital. "I kept driving while my wife was covered with blood. Our daughter screamed and wept seeing her mother dying," he said.
"I was in a very bad shape. All the way to the hospital I was asking my wife to answer me, and at the same time tried to calm down our daughter, who wouldn't stop crying."
On Saturday afternoon, thousands accompanied al-Rawbi on her last journey. Participants at the funeral shouted "We will sacrifice our lives for the sake of the martyr" and "Aisha is a heroic woman." They demanded that the murderers be caught and punished and that the case not be closed on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence.
"Aisha the martyr waited for her daughter's wedding, which is supposed to take place in two weeks, and she has been talking about the wedding a lot in recent days, and she has asked us all to come and participate in the great joy," said a relative. "But unfortunately she was killed by settlers and instead of a wedding, we all participated in the big funeral."
A general strike, which included all public businesses and institutions, was declared in Biddya on Saturday following al-Rawbi's death.
“The Israeli government must stop the murderers and not dismiss cases like this. Mosques and vehicles and houses were set on fire, and we didn’t see anyone arrested,” one Biddya resident said.
He went on to say that “in my opinion, this disaster could’ve been avoided. This isn’t the first time stones are thrown at Palestinian vehicles. There were many cases that ended without death. We do not know what our response will be, but the incident will not be tolerated.”