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Security experts: A proven way of gaining info at the scene

Elad victim’s family furious after captured terrorist is given a cigarette

Relatives of Yonatan Havakuk say they are ‘shocked and astounded’ by footage of Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i smoking shortly after he was detained

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, a Palestinian who confessed to committing a deadly terror attack in Elad, is seen smoking a cigarette shortly after his arrest, May 8, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, a Palestinian who confessed to committing a deadly terror attack in Elad, is seen smoking a cigarette shortly after his arrest, May 8, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)

The family of one of the three victims killed in a deadly attack in Elad expressed outrage over footage that showed one of the terrorists smoking a cigarette shortly after his arrest on Sunday morning.

“We are shocked and astounded by the way the damned terrorists were caught and how they are treated after the arrest. Giving them cigarettes. Just shocked, astounded and very angry and we have no words to describe the disappointment,” Yonatan Havakuk’s family said in a statement carried by Hebrew-language media.

Havakuk was one of three victims killed in Thursday night’s axe attack in the central city of Elad. Several others were seriously hurt by the two terrorists, As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, and Subhi Emad Sbeihat, who were arrested after a 60-hour manhunt.

Footage posted to social media shortly after their arrests showed al-Rifa’i sitting on a rock, smoking a cigarette with his hands tied behind his back. A bottle of water is seen next to him.

Al-Rifa’i admitted to security forces that he committed the attack with Sbeihat.

“What did you do here?” an officer asks al-Rifa’i. “An attack… an attack in Elad,” al-Rifa’i responded. The officer then asked him what he did in the attack. “[We] hit people… [me and] my friend, Subhi,” al-Rifa’i said.

Allowing a suspect to smoke a cigarette has been used as an interrogation technique in order to create trust and extract critical information during later questioning.

There was no immediate comment from security forces on the footage, but Alon Avitar, an ex-senior IDF officer, told Channel 12 that it was a proven means of gaining information from a suspect in the first moments after capture.

Havakuk’s daughter Odel asked, “Why weren’t they shot? Jail will be a hotel for them.”

The brother of Boaz Gol, another victim of the deadly attack, said he was “very sorry they did not finish them off on the spot.”

“They are now going to jail and getting a TV, a bachelor’s degree, schnitzel, and will choose who to sit in the cell with,” Yossi Gol told the Kan public broadcaster, in an apparent reference to amenities provided to security prisoners in Israeli jails.

The victims of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, from left to right; Boaz Gol, Yonatan Havakuk and Oren Ben Yiftah (courtesy)

The two Palestinians were arrested Sunday in a forested area near Elad.

An axe apparently used in the attack was located nearby.

The two — from a town near Jenin in the West Bank — are accused of hacking three Israelis to death with an axe in the majority-ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel on Thursday. A knife was also believed to have been used in the attack.

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