The Defense Ministry on Sunday said it has decided to recognize a Jewish man murdered in the Arab Israeli city of Kafr Qassem as a terror victim.
The decision to name Reuven Schmerling a victim of terror was made after the Shin Bet security agency said last week Schmerling’s murder was an act of terror, the Defense Ministry said.
Schmerling, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Elkana, was found dead in a storage unit belonging to his business in Kafr Qassem’s industrial area earlier this month, hours before the start of the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
Police and the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, opened a joint investigation into the murder, looking at possible motives including a work- or money-related dispute. Schmerling owned a coal business in Kafr Qassem, employed residents of the city and had business contacts there.
In its statement last week confirming the murder was a terror attack, the Shin Bet said it arrest two Palestinian suspects, both from the West Bank city of Qabatiya, in connection with the killing.
A court has imposed a gag order on publishing details of the investigation. The Shin Bet did not elaborate on what findings led them to suspect terror because of the gag order.
Schmerling’s family said the day after his body was found it had “no doubt” the murder was carried out for nationalistic reasons.
On Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin visited the Schmerling family members in Elkana as they sat shiva, the Jewish mourning period.
Schmerling’s wife, Hannah, shared with the president the family’s plans for Schmerling’s 70th birthday, which they had been due to celebrate the day after his body was found.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.