JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two West Bank Palestinians have been arrested in the death of an Israeli man whose body was found in an Arab-Israeli city.
The Israel Security Agency announced Sunday that the two men from the city of Qabatiya, located near Jenin in the West Bank, were arrested a day after the body of Reuven Schmerling, 70, was discovered in a storage unit in Kafr Kassem’s industrial area, reportedly bearing signs of extreme violence, including stab wounds. Schmerling, who lived in the West Bank settlement of Elkana, owned a coal business in Kafr Kassem.
“Evidence gathered thus far by the ISA indicates that this was a terrorist attack carried out for a nationalist motive,” the agency, also known as the Shin Bet, said in a statement.
The statement noted that the details of the case, including the names of the arrested suspects, are under a gag order.
Earlier Sunday, Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, said on Israel Radio that Schmerling’s death likely was nationalistically motivated. The Hebrew media had reported a day earlier that the death was the result of an act of terror.
Thousands of people attended Schmerling’s funeral on Friday.
In the interview Erdan cautioned, “We can’t say that it’s nationalistically motivated every time that a Jew is killed by a Palestinian. We can’t make up the evidence. I understand how important it is for a family to have that recognition, but that decision has consequences for years ahead and we have to wait for official confirmation based on the investigation.
“Due to a gag order I cannot provide any details, but I will say that in line with the reports yesterday of official assessments that it was nationalistically motivated, I agree with those assessments.”
Schmerling had turned 70 the day his body was found. His friends and family were planning to celebrate the occasion the following day in Elkana.