The body of a Jewish man from the West Bank settlement of Elkana was discovered with stab wounds on Wednesday in a storage space near the Israeli Arab city of Kafr Qassem a half-hour’s drive away.
Police suspect Reuven Schmerling was murdered at a local business in the town’s industrial zone. The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, said it was investigating.
The motive was still unclear but the Shin Bet said it was checking whether the suspected murder was perpetrated for nationalistic reasons.
According to initial reports, Schmerling owned a business in the city, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of Tel Aviv.
Police initially suspected that a row between Schmerling and his workers may have been behind the incident, Channel 10 News reported. Police later said they were exploring all avenues and searching for people who were in the area at the time Schmerling was killed.
The local council of Elkana in the north-western West Bank issued a statement earlier identifying the father of four as the victim. He was due to turn 70 on Thursday.
“We have confirmed that the Israeli man was murdered and police units are searching for suspects who could have been in the area at the time of the incident. The body bore signs of stab wounds,” a police spokesperson said earlier Wednesday.
The Magen David Adom emergency services said Schmerling was found unconscious and without a pulse and paramedics were forced to declare him dead at the scene.
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Kafr Qassem has witnessed several murders in recent months that are believed to have been criminally motivated even as they remain unsolved.
Town residents have criticized the police’s failure to crack down on crime in the city.
In June, President Reuven Rivlin met with the town’s mayor, Adel Badir, and Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to discuss ways of restoring calm after a security guard shot dead a resident, Mohammed Taha, 27, while rioters attacked a local police station.
The guard who shot Taha, who has not been named in the media, was questioned by police and released. Taha’s family had accused the guard of murder.