PA arrests suspects in East Jerusalem triple homicide, hands them to Israel

After manhunt, Palestinian security services reportedly arrest two people alleged to have carried out deadly shooting in Kafr Aqab and two others who aided them

Palestinian Authority security forces enter the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab following a triple homicide on January 2, 2021 (video screenshot)
Palestinian Authority security forces enter the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab following a triple homicide on January 2, 2021 (video screenshot)

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly handed over to Israel four suspects arrested over the weekend in connection with a shootout in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab that left three Palestinian residents dead and eight wounded.

Two of the suspects, relatives of the victims, are suspected of murder, while two others are suspected of aiding the perpetrators, the Ynet news site reported Monday.

They were arrested in Ramallah on Sunday after a manhunt that saw Israel give special permission for large numbers of armed Palestinian Authority police to enter Kafr Aqab a day after the shooting.

According to Palestinian media reports, the three victims were Adnan al-Rajabi, Haytham al-Rajabi and Issam al-Rajabi, all members of the same extended family. A fourth, unnamed shooting victim was in critical condition in a Ramallah hospital as of Sunday night.

Israel officially bans the Palestinian Authority from operating inside the Jerusalem boundary and regularly cracks down on its activities in the capital. Saturday’s scenes, therefore, were highly unusual, with dozens of officers of the Palestinian security forces entering Kafr Aqab in armored jeeps before fanning out along the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare.

Kafr Aqab, a bustling Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, has been separated from the rest of Jerusalem since 2005 by the security barrier. The neighborhood’s Palestinian residents have long argued that the city fails to provide even basic municipal services to residents beyond the wall.

The Israel Police rarely operates beyond the security barrier, and then only with approval from the Israel Defense Forces. The lack of police presence has given Kafr Aqab a reputation for lawlessness and anarchy, exemplified by the triple homicide on Saturday.

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