JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security officials are investigating whether the slaying of an Israeli army colonel by axe-wielding Palestinians was criminally motivated rather than terrorism.
Israel Defense Forces reserve Col. Sariya Ofer was bludgeoned to death early Friday morning by two Palestinian men who waited outside his Jordan Valley home. The men wielded an axe and metal rod, Army Radio reported.
Two Palestinians from the Hebron area, aged 18 and 21, have confessed to the murder, according to the Shin Bet security service. They said they also visited the home in Brosh Habika, a West Bank settlement and vacation village, two weeks ago. Five Palestinian suspects were arrested on Friday.
Security officials are now investigating whether the murder was part of a plot to steal property from the settlement. Initially it was believed that the attack, which also wounded Ofer’s wife, Monique, was terrorism.
Sariya Ofer was the nephew of brothers and business partners Yuli and Sammy Ofer.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet recalled the slain Ofer.
“I remember him as a child; he was in my brother Ido’s class and was a frequent visitor at our home,” Netanyahu said. “He was a mature, serious boy who afterwards, during his military service, contributed greatly to the IDF and the security of the state.”