Family members of Hebron resident Shadi Ahmad Matua, the alleged perpetrator of a deadly terror attack in the West Bank last week, have denied reports that his father and brother turned him in to Israeli authorities in an effort to prevent the family home from being demolished.
Matua, aged 28 and married with two children, is suspected of fatally shooting Rabbi Yaakov Litman, 40, and his 18-year-old son, Netanel, in the West Bank on Friday.
The Shin Bet security service on Sunday said that Matua’s father and brother had informed Israeli authorities of his involvement, to avoid a possible razing of the family home.
Following an extensive search of the family property, Israel Defense Forces soldiers located the gun that killed the Litmans, as well as the car used in the attack near the settlement of Otniel.
However, Matua’s uncle told Haaretz that Matua’s father, a merchant, was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint shortly after the attack, and showed no indications of his son having been involved.
“In his identity card, they went over the names of his children,” the uncle was quoted as saying, “and when they got to Shadi they began to ask him a lot of questions. It was clear that they had information about him, and they asked the father where he was staying and he said at home.
“After that, they put the father into a military vehicle that departed in a convoy in the direction of the home. They surrounded [the house] and arrested Shadi, and a few hours later the father was released.”
In a later interview with Israel’s Channel 2 television on Sunday evening, Shadi’s father also denied the Shin Bet assertion that he informed on his son to Israeli authorities.
“Think about it — would a man choose his home over his own son?” he asked rhetorically during a telephone interview. “Let them come and demolish my house right now,” he added.
The practice of demolishing the family homes of terrorists has been criticized by non-governmental groups, but government officials have repeatedly defended the measure as a deterrent against future terror attacks.
Authorities say the Litmans’ car was fired on by a car that passed it on the road. After being hit, the car swerved into the opposite lane, where it crashed into rocks by the side of road. Yaakov and Netanel were both hit by the initial gunfire, and Yaakov was fatally wounded. Netanel Litman tried to call rescue services but was then also shot dead by the gunman, who got out of his car to fire more bullets into the Litmans’ vehicle.
The other family members in the car — the mother, a 16-year-old boy and three young girls aged 11, 9 and 5 — were lightly wounded, suffering mostly from bruises and shrapnel injuries.
The Litmans were driving to an event in the town of Meitar to celebrate the upcoming wedding of their eldest daughter.
Father and son were laid to rest Saturday night in Jerusalem.