Three brothers from northern Israel have been arrested on suspicion of murdering their mother and then hiding her body, police announced on Sunday.
The brothers, aged 28, 23 and 20, from the Arab town of Zarzir, are suspected of murdering their 46-year-old parent near the Jordan River, where her body was found a day after the trio rammed a police roadblock in the area.
The roadblock-ramming incident occurred Friday morning, police said. “Immediately upon receiving word of the incident, a large number of police forces began searching for the vehicle and investigating the identity of the passengers,” the force said in a statement.
During the initial investigation, police noted that a 46-year-old woman, originally from Zarzir, now living in Nof Hagalil, had gone missing. One of her sons came up as a suspect in the roadblock ramming, police said.
Police forces, now treating the missing person case as a potential murder case, set out to arrest her son.
Police said forces searched for the main suspect for a number of hours following the roadblock ramming, but he had gone into hiding.
Later on Friday, 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 were arrested separately later, according to the police. Their remand was extended until Thursday.
The body of the murdered mother was found following 26 hours of searches, which included the use of helicopters, canine, cavalry and tracker units, police said. Her body was found near a section of the Jordan River in northern Israel.
“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.
Lavi said 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.
Arab cities and towns have seen a surge in violence in recent years, with organized crime seen as the main driver. Arab Israelis blame police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars, and violence against women.
Nearly 70 Arab Israelis have been killed in homicides since the beginning of 2021, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit organization. In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.
More than 90 percent of shootings in Israel last year took place in Arab communities, according to police, though Arab Israelis account for only around one-fifth of the country’s population.
Last month, 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.