JERUSALEM (Aug. 20)
Police say they know the names of two West Bank Arabs who they believe murdered a 55-year-old tomato farmer in the Sharon Plain on Wednesday.
But the two have so far eluded capture.
Ground and helicopter searches have until now failed to locate two residents of Bala village, near Tulkarm, who are suspected of beating and strangulating Bechor Hajjaj, a father of five.
Hajjaj’s body was found Wednesday near his hothouse in Kfar Ya’abetz, in the Tel Mond region of the Sharon Plain. Searchers combed the Tel Mond and nearby Tulkarm areas looking for traces of the murderers and of the victim’s Peugeot pickup truck in which they escaped.
It is now known there were two assailants rather than the three originally believed to have carried out the crime.
The number was given by an Arab labor contractor, also a resident of the Tulkarm area, who told police Hajjaj had requested there laborers to help him with tomato picking and sorting. However, only two showed up.
The farmer had requested the extra hands because three regulars had failed to come to work.
The names of the temporary workers were registered at an Israel Defense Force checkpoint as the Arab contractor drove them to their workplace by truck.
Hajjaj was buried Thursday in the Ein Vered cemetery near his home village. He was the oldest of eight brothers and sisters. His parents, both still living, came to Israel from Libya in 1949. He is survived by three daughters and two sons, ages 24 to 36.
A younger brother of the slain farmer is Brig. Gen. Haggai Shalom, chief of the IDF Quartermaster Branch.
The murder was the ninth of a Jewish employer by an Arab worker in the past three years.
Building contractor Zalman Schlein of Gan Yavneh was murdered by two of his workers, residents of the Gaza Strip, on July 15, 1989, A restaurant owner in Ein Kerem, near Jerusalem, Avraham Shalom, was killed by his cook, a resident of Ramallah, on May 22, 1990.
Three Jewish workers, Yehuda Hakmaz, Moshe Ayoun and Iris Asraf, were slain Dec. 15, 1990, by an Arab worker at an aluminum plant in Jaffa. In June of last year, a Jordan Valley farmer, Avi Osher, of Moshav Bekaot, was killed by Arab workers in his date grove.
Two months ago, Moshe Bino and Amikam Salzman, were murdered at their packing plant in Gaza by Moslem fundamentalists.