Decaying body found outside Israeli army base in West Bank
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Decaying body found outside Israeli army base in West Bank

Unable to identify the gender of the deceased due to advanced decomposition, police open investigation

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A road passing through the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: A road passing through the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A decomposing body was found outside an Israeli military training base in the West Bank’s Negohot Regional Council on Thursday.

Israel Police, who were unable to even identify the gender of the deceased due to the extent of the decay, have opened an investigation into the circumstances of the death.

After collecting all findings and DNA traces at the scene in the western Hebron hills, the police transferred the body to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.

On Wednesday, the body of 69-year-old Reuven Schmerling from the West Bank settlement of Elkana, was found lifeless in the Israeli Arab city of Kfar Qassem.

Initial reports indicated he was stabbed; some Hebrew reports said he had also been badly beaten.

Schmerling, a father of four, was set to celebrate his 70th birthday on Thursday. He owned a coal business in Kafr Qassem, about a half-hour drive from Elkana. His body was found in one of the business’s storage units.

Reuven Schmerling, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Elkana, who was murdered and his body discovered in a storage facility in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qassem, October 4, 2017. (Courtesy)

The motive for the suspected murder was still being investigated as the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, joined the probe. Security forces said they were looking at all possible avenues, including a possible work-related row between Schmerling and his workers.

The Shin Bet said earlier it was also checking whether the suspected murder was perpetrated for nationalistic reasons. Hours after Schmerling was found, a court imposed a gag order on details of the joint police-Shin Bet investigation into the suspected murder.

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