JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
A recent immigrant from the United States has been arrested in connection with the murder of an 11-year-old Arab girl in Nablus last Thursday and the attempted murder of her younger sister.
The suspect, identified as Ephraim Segal, 26, a resident of Elon Moreh, a Jewish settlement near Nablus, was remanded in custody by a Netanya magistrates court today for four days while the police search for another suspect and additional clues.
The victim, Aisha Al Bakhsh, was killed when unidentified gunmen fired rifles into a bakery shop in the Nablus casbah. Her nine-year-old sister, Fida, was wounded in the mouth by bullet fragments. Segal, said to be the owner of an electronics company, was arrested by Nablus police over the weekend. Although the police acknowledged in court that they had no direct evidence linking Segal to the murder. He was detained because he was seen firing into the air near the bakery.
DESCRIPTION DOES NOT FIT SEGAL
The police admitted further that initial reports indicated that the murderer was a blond man wearing an Israel army uniform, a description that does not fit Segal. But the court agreed to hold Segal until ballistic tests determine whether bullets found at the murder scene match those fired from Segal’s rifle. The magistrate rejected the usual 15-day remand on grounds that four days were sufficient to complete the test.
The second suspect was reportedly riding in a car from which it was first believed shots were fired at young Arab stone throwers. Later, it transpired that the gunmen left the car to chase the youths through the narrow alleys of the Nablus casbah and fired into the bakery as they passed.
Jewish settler sources in the Nablus region said the police detained three suspects last Friday but promptly released two of them who produced alibis. The third, presumably Segal, had no satisfactory alibi. Segal was seen sitting in the Netanya court today wrapped in a prayer shawl which covered his face.
He reportedly expressed fear that if he was recognized, Arabs would take revenge even if he was proved innocent. He accused Nablus Arabs of trying to “nail” him because he spent time in the city and was known there. He claimed, “I oppose violence against Arabs.”
TENSION RUNNING HIGH IN NABLUS REGION
Tension has been running high in the Nablus region of the West Bank where Jewish settlers were infuriated by the axe attack against one of them, Yosef Stern, in the Nablus marketplace just a week ago. The settlers have accused the Israeli authorities of reneging on promises to take tougher action against Arab stone throwers and have hinted they would take the law into their own hands.
After the attack on Stern, who was hospitalized for moderate wounds, a curfew was imposed on Nablus to protect the population from possible settler reprisals. But two Arab security guards at Nablus University were severely beaten the night after the attack and an Arab bus was vandalized. Another curfew was imposed immediately after the bakery killing. It was lifted last night.