A 27-year-old man from northern Israel was charged on Monday with murdering his mother and hiding her body last month, after she converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity.
According to the charge sheet, Rasha Muklasha, 46, left her husband and severed ties with her five children — including the suspect, Muad Hib — in 2006. She then moved from the town of Zarzir to Nof HaGalil and converted to Christianity.
Recently, she resumed contact with her children following the death of her ex-husband. Prosecutors allege that her conversion, which greatly angered Hib, was the motive for the murder.
According to the indictment, the murder was premediated, with Hib setting up a meeting with his mother on August 5 near Nazareth with the intention of killing her and disposing of her remains.
After picking up Muklasha in his car, he “strangled the deceased with a rope or his hands, alone or with others, with the intention of causing her death,” the court documents said.
While searching for a place to hide the body, Hib noticed a police roadblock ahead and rammed into it, successfully fleeing the scene, the indictment said. He then traveled toward the Jordan River.
There, he dug a pit and buried the body, the indictment said. He covered the spot with rocks and dry leaves, “all to obscure the body’s location and make it harder to locate.”
Later that day, the suspect rammed a second roadblock that had been set up as part of the investigation, and he was arrested after a brief chase near Nahalal, police said. The suspect’s two brothers, aged 23 and 20, were arrested separately. It was not immediately clear if they would be charged.
The remains were found some 26 hours after the second roadblock ramming, near a section of the Jordan River in northern Israel, police said at the time. The body was found following an intensive search, which included the use of helicopters, canine, cavalry and tracker units, police said.
“The rapid work of investigators in locating the suspect, and the suspicion of a murder case, led to the launch of all Northern District forces for a rapid and extensive operation to locate the victim’s body,” Northern District chief Shimon Lavi said at the time.
Lavi said that the case proved the police’s “full commitment to solving crime in the Arab community, using all means at our disposal.”
Police have been accused of neglecting Israel’s Arab society, as violence and crime continue to surge.
Violent crime has risen to record levels in Arab communities in recent years, with 78 Arab Israeli citizens killed in apparent homicides since 2021 began, according to a tally by the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit. Another 15 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli territory.
Thirteen of those killed in violent incidents this year were women, the nonprofit said.
Last year, 96 Arab Israelis were killed in communal violence.
Authorities have vowed to devote more resources to battling crime in Arab locales, after a series of recent shootings triggered the online #Arab_Lives_Matter campaign to protest the alleged lack of police action.
In July, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity,” as he met with senior government and police officials to formulate a national plan to tackle the issue.