The murder of Abed Armando Shukhallah was a terrorist attack, charged family members of the chef shot dead by William Hershkovitz at the Leonardo Club hotel in Eilat on Friday.

Hershkovitz, 23, fired four shots at the 33-year-old Shukhallah after a fight broke out between the men following the termination of Hershkovitz’s employment at the hotel.

Hershkovitz, an American who was interning at the hotel as part of a program organized by the Jewish Agency, used the gun of a security guard who arrived to break up the fight.

Security forces, including the IDF’s Counterterrorism Unit, killed the shooter after he fired on them in a siege on the hotel kitchen, where he had been holed up.

The dead man’s family does not accept the police statement that the shooting was a work-related dispute.

“This was a terror attack in every way,” a cousin told Yedioth Ahronoth. “The murderer had said that he hates Arabs and he killed Armando just because he belongs to a minority.”

Shukhallah was from Mi’iliya, an Arab-Christian village in the western Galilee. Over the weekend, thousands of mourners and well-wishers, Arabs and Jews alike, visited the family to pay their respects.

After finishing high school, Shukhallah studied in Canada to be a chef. When he returned to Israel, he moved to Eilat to work in a hotel. A few years ago he moved back to Mi’iliya to open a coffee house, but he returned to Eilat last year when he was offered the position of assistant chef at the Leonardo Club.

American citizen William Hershkovitz, who shot a coworker in Eilat on Friday. (photo credit: Image capture from Channel 10)

American citizen William Hershkovitz, who shot a coworker in Eilat on Friday. (photo credit: Image capture from Channel 10)

Hershkovitz arrived in Israel about two months ago as part of a work and study program sponsored by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. Earlier in the week he was fired by the Leonardo Club and was due to be re-assigned to another job by the program.

Program co-participants had complained in the past about his violent tendencies and threats to other participants.

One person, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Hershkovitz made statements “against Arabs, or Nazis, or terrorist type movements.”