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Second Palestinian land dealer murdered for selling to Israelis

JERUSALEM, May 18 (JTA) — The body of an Arab land dealer who sold land to Jews was found Sunday in the West Bank town of Ramallah, according to Palestinian officials. The officials denied that they had any hand in the murder of Harbi Abu Sarah, who was the second Palestinian killed this month for selling land to Jews. On May 9, the body of eastern Jerusalem land dealer Farid al-Bashiti was found in Ramallah. Israeli authorities charged that Palestinian security officials had a hand in that killing. An Israeli court last week authorized the continued custody of a Palestinian man and woman suspected of involvement in the murder of Bashiti. One of the detainees was Nadia Davash, a 33-year-old eastern Jerusalem resident who allegedly met Bashiti in an eastern Jerusalem hotel hours before his body was found in Ramallah. The second suspect was identified as Yasser Anani, a Palestinian police officer. The court banned publication of details of the investigation. Days before Bashiti was killed, Freih Abu Medein, the Palestinian Authority’s justice minister, said that any Arab selling land to Jews would be subject to the death penalty. The funeral of Bashiti, 70, was held Sunday, after his family, which had received threats, repeatedly put it off. Bashiti was buried at Nebi Moussa in the Judean Desert. The Palestinian mufti, or religious leader, of Jerusalem had earlier issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, banning him from being buried in a Muslim cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The mufti, Sheik Akrami Sabri, had said at the time that he issued the ban because Bashiti had sold land to Jews. The mufti ordered several weeks ago that all Muslims selling land to Jews be sentenced to death. Bashiti’s family had originally buried him secretly in Ramallah, but the body was later disinterred for an autopsy. The autopsy, carried out by Israeli forensic experts, showed that Bashiti had been beaten and his skull crushed. When Bashiti’s body was found, his hands had been cuffed. A sharp blow to the head had caused his death, but there were also signs that he had been tortured. Palestinian officials initially informed the family that he had been killed in a traffic accident.