Palestinians inspect a pile of rubble after an Israeli bulldozer demolished a home in the village of Beit Kahel, near the West Bank city of Hebron, on November 28. (Mamoun Wazwaz/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The Aisha al-Rabi Killing: Defining a Victim

Israel recognizes 2018 West Bank attack that killed Palestinian mother of eight as act of terrorism – but won’t define her as victim of terror, denying family financial compensation

For the second time in a year, the Israeli Defense Ministry on Sunday recognized the 2018 West Bank killing of Aisha al-Rabi, 45, as a terrorist attack.

However, the ministry has refused to recognize the mother of eight as a “victim of terror,” as victims need to be either Israeli citizens or have Israeli residency permits to be eligible for the classification.

On October 12, 2018, Rabi, from Biddya, southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus, was driving with her husband and a daughter near the Tapuah Junction on October 12, 2018, when they came under a stoning attack. Her husband and daughter were injured.

An Israeli minor has been indicted for manslaughter for allegedly killing Rabi by throwing a stone at her car, hitting her in the head. DNA of the defendant, a Jewish resident of the West Bank, was found on the stone.

“Rabi was not an Israeli citizen and, as a result, she does not fulfill the criteria required in order [for the family] to receive compensation from the National Insurance Institute. The family has the right to appeal to an inter-governmental committee, which addresses such issues, to consider compensation,” the Defense Ministry told The Media Line in a statement.

Nabila Kaboub, one of the lawyers representing Rabi’s family, told The Media Line she planned to appeal the decision in order to ensure that Yakoub al-Rabi, the victim’s husband, be considered a victim of terror, as he holds an Israeli residency permit.

“For the first time in history, [such] a crime was recognized as an act of terror, but the victim wasn’t recognized as a victim of terror. Well, our next step regards Yakoub, who was with her in the car during the attack and suffered mentally and physically as well,” the attorney said.

Kaboub stated that while the prosecution was preparing its case against the Israeli defendant, she “demanded that his home be demolished and other stringent measures be taken.” She has yet to receive a response.

“This is the second case ever where Israel has recognized an attack [by a Jew against Arabs] beyond the Green Line as [being a] terrorist [incident]. We are now focusing on helping the family to get the recognition,” she said.

Yakoub al-Rabi told The Media Line that the ministry’s action was insufficient.

“I can’t even consider it a victory. The Israeli government recognized the attack as terrorist, but it didn’t recognize the killer to be a terrorist, as there is no real intention [by Israel] to harm him,” he said.

Rabi said the Israeli justice system draws a distinction when dealing with cases where the accused is Israeli, as opposed to Palestinian.

“I demand justice,” he stated. “I want the killer to be imprisoned and his home demolished, just like they do to us.”

He was referring to an Israeli policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who attack Jews.

“When the attacker is Palestinian, immediately, within 24 hours, the Israeli authorities move to find the person and investigate the incident. But in cases that concern Palestinian victims, investigations take months and the procedures are completely different,” he complained.

Moreover, he said the Israeli court was purposely dragging its feet on procedures to buy more time for the case.

“The court refused the forensic medical report issued by An-Najah Hospital [in Nablus]. They will keep procrastinating, thinking I will give up. But I won’t,” Rabi said.

Shahwan Jabarin, head of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, told The Media Line that Israeli settlers carry out almost daily attacks against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.

“Rabi’s incident wasn’t the first attack, or the last,” he said. “The settlers’ crimes aren’t hidden from the Israeli security services and army, but the lack of accountability and legal prosecution of these outlaws opens the way for more crimes.”

Jabarin complained that settlers feel they are immune from prosecution when attacking Palestinians, which has created a culture of impunity. Yet “the sheer scale of this crime didn’t give Israel a chance to ignore it, or even a possibility of procrastination, as the incident placed the Israelis in an embarrassing position politically, legally and in terms of security, as well.”

Nevertheless, he blames Israel with manipulating its laws of compensation.

“It’s as if to say: Only Palestinians can be terrorists,” he noted. “Israel’s policy is obvious. A policy based on religion, gender and nationalism.”

Jabarin added that the important question now was whether the international community classifies settlers and the organizations behind them as terrorists.

“Are they going to add them to their lists of terrorists and limit their freedoms and their movement?” he asked.

Qasim Awwad, head of documentation for a Palestinian anti-settlement group, told The Media Line that Israel demolished 686 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Jerusalem last year alone.

“The rate of demolitions last year was the highest in terms of cost to the Palestinian citizen,” he said.

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