A 16-year-old Palestinian was indicted on Thursday for the stabbing death of IDF soldier Eden Atias a month ago.
Hussein Sharif Rawarda, a resident of the West Bank city of Jenin, stands accused of stabbing 19-year-old Atias multiple times in the neck on November 13. The attack took place on a bus in the northern town of Afula.
According to eyewitness accounts, Atias was asleep at the time of the stabbing. Rawarda, who crossed the Green Line from the West Bank without a permit prior to the attack, was arrested immediately after the incident.
The military court indictment stated that the Palestinian teen chose Atias as his target after concluding that attacking a female soldier or a border policeman, both of whom sat at some distance away from him, would not result in their deaths.
He then approached the sleeping Atias from behind, gagged the soldier’s mouth and slit his throat several times, the indictment said.
Atias enlisted only two weeks earlier and was still in basic training. He was traveling to his base on Wednesday morning after a sick leave.
The killers’s parents testified in court Thursday and insisted they had not known of their son’s plan.
“My whole life I have worked in Israel,” Rawarda’s father said, according to Channel 10 News. The father stressed that Rawarda had acted on his own accord, but asserted that financial hardships may have prompted the 16-year-old to carry out the attack.
“My son has no political allegiances — he doesn’t even have any interest in politics — but the economic situation makes people crazy sometimes,” he said.
Rawarda’s father went on to stress that he condemned any murder carried out by either Palestinians or Israelis, Channel 10 News reported.
During his interrogation, Rawarda claimed that he had acted to avenge his relatives, who are imprisoned in Israel for terrorist activity. Reports have indicated two of his family members are in jail for convictions related to the murder of Israelis.
“I’m angry that no one mentions my imprisoned uncles,” Rawarda reportedly said. “Israel and the Palestinian Authority do not mention them at all. Who will look after them? Now after what I did everyone has heard of them.”
Rawarda said his family had not known of his intention to stab a soldier.
Last week, six suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of Atias, following a joint investigation by police and the Israel Security Agency.
The suspects were believed to have illegally employed, assisted and hosted the accused killer.
One of those arrested, a 26-year-old resident of Upper Nazareth, was indicted Wednesday for illegally employing Rawarda as a janitor in his family-owned Nazareth hotel for a week, and for hosting him in the hotel’s employee lodgings during that time.
According to the indictment, the Israeli man was aware that Rawarda was in the country illegally.