The Beersheba District Court on Tuesday convicted a Bedouin Israeli man for the 2017 murder of an Israel Defense Forces soldier in the southern city of Arad.
The head of the panel of judges, Justice Natan Zlochover, said there was no doubt Khaled Abu Jaudah, from an unrecognized village in southern Israel, fatally stabbed Ron Kokia, a sergeant in the IDF’s Nahal Infantry Brigade, as he waited at a bus stop on November 30, 2017.
Abu Jaudah’s half brother Zahi, who the Shin Bet said acted as an accomplice and assisted him after the attack, has been indicted for attempted murder, possession of a knife and obstruction of justice, among other charges.
Kokia’s father, Boaz, told reporters that he would demand the death penalty for his son’s attacker, as well as the demolition of the illegally constructed Abu Jaudah family home, and for Khaled’s father to be convicted for polygamy.
“We heard the decision that Khaled is guilty of murder, and we will demand the appropriate punishment for the terrorist — the death penalty, in order to deter potential terrorists,” he said.
Some right-wing politicians have in recent years called for instituting a death penalty for attackers in Israeli law.
Sheikh Alatrash Aqeb, who attended the trial as a representative of the Bedouins, told the Ynet new site that the whole community condemned the killing.
“It’s a sorrow that will not heal for the rest of their lives, but we will be by their sides. The whole Bedouin community condemns this murder,” Aqeb said.
— רשת (@Reshettv) December 24, 2017
On December 1, 2017, following a large-scale manhunt in the area, the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service arrested the two Bedouin Israeli suspects and retrieved Kokia’s rifle, but details of the case were kept under a court-issued gag order that was eventually lifted.
The Shin Bet said that during Khaled’s interrogation, he “admitted to murdering the soldier and stealing [Kokia’s] gun.”
Neither of the two suspects had a history of terrorist activities, the Shin Bet said.
The security service also shed light on Khaled’s motives, saying he committed the attack “out of a desire to do something on behalf of the Palestinians, and as revenge for IDF activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
The Shin Bet added that Khaled identified with various terrorist groups and “has extremist beliefs.”
During his interrogation, Khaled told investigators that his original plan was not to stab a soldier, but to kidnap one, using anesthetics that he was going to steal from Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, where he worked.
Khaled abandoned this plan and instead plotted to kill a soldier and steal his gun in order to use it in future terror attacks, the Shin Bet said. According to Ynet, Khaled’s change of heart came about because his mother lives in the West Bank and he saw the problems faced by the Palestinians.
“Every day babies die in Gaza, and I felt that I had to do something for the Palestinian people,” Khaled reportedly told interrogators.
According to the indictment, Khaled would watch videos of IDF actions in Gaza and videos praising the Hamas terror group, which controls the coastal enclave. In one post he wrote, “May God save the land of the Muslims and make your enemies the enemies of the religion.”
Khaled bought a getaway car and saved NIS 54,000 (approximately $15,000) for when he was on the lam.
In the month preceding the attack, he and Zahi drove around Arad looking for a soldier to murder, eventually finding Kokia, whose Nahal Brigade’s home base is located just outside the city.
The soldier was waiting for a ride near a mall in the southern city at approximately 9:30 p.m. when he was attacked.
When medics arrived at the scene, they found Kokia in critical condition, unconscious and without a pulse, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service. A helicopter was summoned to rush him to hospital. Medics tried to resuscitate him in the ambulance but were forced to pronounce him dead before they reached the helicopter, one of the medics said.
After the attack, Khaled was said to have returned home and told Zahi what he had done. He showed him Kukia’s weapon and the knife covered in blood. The two hid the weapons and went out to eat pizza in Arad. They were later arrested with the help of traffic camera footage.
Judah Ari Gross and Alexander Fulbright contributed to this report.