Israeli authorities arrested the wife of Hamas gunman Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who committed a deadly terror shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, an Israeli security official told reporters on Monday.
Abu Shkhaydam’s wife — identified by her lawyer as Sou’ad Abu Shkhaydam — was returning from a visit to her terminally ill mother in Jordan, her attorney said. Sou’ad was detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing and transferred for interrogation to Jerusalem’s Russian Compound, where she remained as of Monday evening.
“She left a week ago for an emergency to visit her mother, who has advanced cancer, and she left all her children here,” said family attorney Medhat Diba.
On Sunday morning, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam drew a submachine near the Chain Gate, which leads to the holy Temple Mount site, and opened fire on passersby.
Israeli police officers returned fire and killed Abu Shkhaydam at the scene, but not before he fatally wounded South African immigrant Eliyahu David Kay and seriously wounded another Israeli yeshiva student. Three other Israelis were treated for light to moderate wounds.
Minutes after the attack, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said that it appeared to have been coordinated in advance.
He noted that Sou’ad had left the country three days ago and claimed she had taken her children along with her.
“It appears this attack was premeditated,” Barlev told reporters in the Old City.
The Abu Shkhaydam family disputed that account, saying that Sou’ad had traveled alone to Jordan.
“What the public security minister says is incorrect. All her children remained here — and if they check the record of arrivals and departures, they will find as much,” Diba said.
Several other family members were arrested and subsequently released by Israeli authorities, including Abu Shkhaydam’s daughter Aya, according to Diba.
The Israel Police did not respond to a request for comment.
On Palestinian social media, some speculated that Jordanian authorities had deported Sou’ad at the request of Israeli authorities. Diba dismissed the allegation as a “rumor.”
“She returned to the country on her own to be with her children and family,” he said in a phone call.
In Shuafat, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam raised five children — three boys and two daughters — and taught Islamic law at a boys high school, for which he received a salary from the Jerusalem municipality. According to Israeli authorities, he was a member of Hamas’s civilian branch, rather than its armed wing.
On Monday, Palestinian media circulated what they claimed was a last letter sent by Abu Shkhaydam to his Hamas comrades and his students.
שלושה עמודים וקצת בכתב יד צפוף – זו הצוואה של פאדי אבו שחידם שמתפרסמת אצל הפלסטינים. כיאה לצוואת שהיד: פחות ענייני ירושה יותר שמחה לקראת מותו וקריאה להמשיך ולהיאחז בירושלים pic.twitter.com/QZt5elg4HR
— Nurit Yohanan (@nurityohanan) November 22, 2021
“From when I first walked, and I drank of the Qu’ran… I dreamed of meeting God as a martyr,” Abu Shkhaydam allegedly wrote.
“We must steer the ship with our blood, and serve as the practical example of the way of jihad,” Abu Shkhaydam said, using an Islamic religious term term meaning “struggle.”
Thousands attended the funeral of Eli David Kay, who was killed in the attack, in Modiin on Monday afternoon. Kay, a recent immigrant from South Africa who was employed at the Western Wall as a tour guide, had been walking to work when he was shot dead.
“My great-grandfather Eliyahu is waiting for him [in heaven], King David is waiting for him, and they’ll take care of him,” Kay’s brother Kasriel said, invoking his sibling’s namesakes.