Terror suspects charged with August slaying of teen student

IDF prosecutors accuse 5 Palestinian men of forming Hamas cell to kill Dvir Sorek, carry out other attacks against Israelis

One of the suspects (R) in the murder of Dvir Sorek after being arrested by the Border Police and IDF in the West Bank on August 10, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
One of the suspects (R) in the murder of Dvir Sorek after being arrested by the Border Police and IDF in the West Bank on August 10, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

Military prosecutors on Thursday indicted five Palestinian men suspected of murdering 18-year-old yeshiva student Dvir Sorek in August on behalf of the Hamas terror group.

Two of the men are believed to have carried out the stabbing itself, while the other three are accused of helping plan and prepare for the attack, the Israel Defense Forces said.

“The indictments filed against the accused are for intentionally causing death, the equivalent to murder in Judea and Samaria, and additional serious crimes,” the army says, using the Biblical name for the West Bank.

According to the indictment, on the night of August 8, Nasir and Qasseem al-Asafra were driving near the Migdal Oz settlement south of Bethlehem when they spotted Sorek walking alone. Nasir exited the vehicle and stabbed Sorek multiple times in the upper body, and then the two men fled the scene.

Dvir Sorek, 18, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)

Sorek’s body was found hours later on the road leading to the religious seminary in Migdal Oz where he was studying as part of hesder, a program that combines military service with Jewish study.

The terrorists fled the scene following the attack, leading security forces on a 48-hour manhunt before the suspects were arrested in Beit Kahil at approximately 3 a.m. the following day.

According to the IDF, in addition to Nasir and Qasseem al-Asafra, the other members of the cell were Ahmad al-Asafra, Yusef Zahour and Mahmoud Atouna.

“The accused formed the cell, which is part of the Hamas terror group, in order to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. As part of their activities, the members of the cell carried out training exercises and lookouts, and armed themselves with knives,” the army said in a statement.

According to the indictment, Qasseem al-Asafra also carried out a stabbing attack in Beersheba in 2011 in which two Israelis were injured but he was never caught. He will also be charged for that attack.

Israeli security forces at the scene where the body of an off-duty, out-of-uniform Israeli soldier was found dead with stab wounds, near the settlement of Migdal Oz in the Etzion region, on August 8, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

In addition to indicting the cell members, the IDF also charged Qasseem al-Asafra’s wife, Inas, last month with assisting the group beforehand and after the deadly stabbing attack.

The IDF has informed the families of four of the cell members that it plans to demolish their homes — a form of punishment Israel says is an effective deterrent against future attacks, but that has been criticized by human rights groups as a forbidden form of collective punishment and by some defense analysts as an ineffective and potentially counterproductive measure.

The military said it had yet to decide whether to demolish the home of the fifth cell member, Atouna.

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