IDF plans to demolish home of suspected killer of Esther Horgen

Military says it intends to knock down 2 floors of building in northern West Bank town where Muhammad Mruh Kabha lived

IDF troops map out the home of a Palestinian man suspected in the murder of Esther Horgen, ahead of its potential demolition, in the West Bank village of Tura, near Jenin, December 24, 2020 (IDF video screenshot)
IDF troops map out the home of Muhammad Mruh Kabha, the prime suspect in the murder of Esther Horgen, ahead of its potential demolition, in the West Bank village of Tura al-Gharbiya, near Jenin, December 24, 2020 (IDF video screenshot)

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said it plans to knock down two floors of the building that was home to the Palestinian man suspected of killing Esther Horgen in a terror attack last month.

The suspected terrorist, Muhammad Mruh Kabha, was arrested shortly after Horgen’s body was found outside the Tal Menashe settlement where she lived in the northern West Bank.

The military said Kabha’s family has been informed of its intention to demolish the two floors and will have the right to challenge the order in court.

Israeli troops last month mapped out Kabha’s home in Tura al-Gharbiya, a town in the Jenin governate around 2.5 kilometers’ drive from Tal Menashe, ahead of the planned demolition.

Muhammad Mruh Kabha, 40, from the Palestinian village of Tura al-Gharbiya, is suspected of murdering Esther Horgen of the Tal Menashe settlement on December 20, 2020. (Shin Bet)

On Monday, the Shin Bet identified Kabha as the main suspect in Horgen’s murder, after a gag order on his name was lifted. Kabha was arrested on December 24 and confessed to investigators.

Jerusalem defends the practice of razing the family home of attackers as a deterrent against future assaults and officials have argued that speed is essential, claiming that the deterrent factor degrades over time. A number of Israeli defense officials have questioned the efficacy of the practice over the years and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.

According to the Shin Bet, Kabha is suspected of carrying out the terror attack as a form of vengeance for the death of a security prisoner, Kamel Abu Waer, who died of cancer six weeks before.

On December 20, Horgen, 52, a mother of six, went for a hike in the Reihan forest. Kabha, who had been waiting in the area for a victim to pass by, spotted her walking alone and “attacked and murdered her,” the security service said.

Horgen’s body was found in the early hours of the next morning after her husband, Benjamin, reported her missing.

Esther Horgen, 52, was found dead in the northern West Bank in a suspected terror attack on December 20, 2020. (Courtesy)

According to the Shin Bet, after killing Horgen, Kabha fled the area and received help from friends and relatives, who helped him hide as Israeli security forces searched for him.

Nevertheless, Kabha was arrested last week, along with four people the Shin Bet said helped him hide. Palestinian media reported that two of those people were his wives.

Horgen’s husband praised Israeli security forces for quickly apprehending the suspect “who planned to carry out more attacks” and said he had been updated by the Shin Bet about the details of his wife’s murder before the information was released to the public.

Horgen said his family planned to build a park in Esther’s memory and to expand their home settlement of Tal Menashe.

A photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on December 24, 2020, shows soldiers in the West Bank detaining a suspect in the suspected murder of Israeli woman Esther Horgen. (Israel Defense Forces)

Horgen’s murder sparked weeks of ongoing tension in the West Bank. The Israeli security services reported 13 incidents of stone-throwing by settlers against Palestinians in the days immediately following Horgen’s murder. A 16-year-old settler, Ahuvia Sandak, was killed in a car crash during a police chase after allegedly hurling rocks.

Sandak’s death ignited days of near-nightly protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank, many of which turned violent.

Additionally, an unarmed Palestinian man, Haroun Abu Aram, was left paralyzed from the neck down on Friday after being shot at close range by Israeli forces during an operation to confiscate illegal Palestinian construction equipment in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.

On Sunday, an Israeli woman was seriously injured by rocks thrown at her car as she drove in the West Bank. The IDF later announced the arrests of several suspects.

And on Tuesday, a Palestinian man tried to carry out a stabbing attack in the West Bank. He was shot dead after throwing a meat cleaver at a settlement security official, according to the military.

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