Stone throwing that killed Palestinian mother of 8 recognized as terror attack

But Defense Ministry refuses to designate Aisha Rabi as a terror victim as she wasn’t a citizen, denying her family compensation; husband’s lawyers vow to appeal

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A car belonging to a Palestinian couple is seen after it was involved in a deadly crash reportedly due to stone-throwing by Israeli settlers at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank on October 12, 2018. (Zachariah Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights); Aisha Muhammad Talal Rabi (Courtesy)
A car belonging to a Palestinian couple is seen after it was involved in a deadly crash reportedly due to stone-throwing by Israeli settlers at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank on October 12, 2018. (Zachariah Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights); Aisha Muhammad Talal Rabi (Courtesy)

Israeli authorities on Sunday recognized the 2018 stone throwing in the West Bank that killed Aisha Rabi as a terror attack, but refused to recognize the Palestinian mother-of-eight as a terror victim.

The Defense Ministry’s criteria require individuals targeted in attacks to either be Israeli citizens or have an Israeli residency permit in order to be recognized as victims of terror and receive compensation from the National Insurance Institute.

Rabi — who was killed after a 16-year-old Israeli allegedly hurled a massive rock at the windshield of her car as she traveled with her husband and daughter near the northern West Bank’s Tapuah Junction — does not fit either of those criteria.

The lawyers representing Rabi’s family Nabila Kaboub and Mohamad Rahal told The Times of Israel that they planned to appeal the decision in order to ensure that Rabi, 47, will posthumously be considered a terror victim.

Rahal said that he also plans to use the Sunday ruling to file a motion to have Rabi’s husband, Yakoub and nine-year-old daughter Rama recognized as terror victims. Yakoub holds an Israeli residency permit, which he expected would allow for a swift accreditation by Israeli authorities on the matter.

Yakoub Rabi (C) with his attorneys Nabila Kaboub (L) and Mohamad Rahal. (Courtesy)

Rahal said the initial decision to deem the stone throwing a terror attack was unprecedented in its own right. This was just the second time an attack targeting a non-Israeli Palestinian was recognized as an instance of terror, and the first time when the victim did not have Israeli residency status.

Last year Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, was recognized as a victim of terror. Abu Asabeh, 48, from the West Bank city of Halhul, was in Israel on a work permit when the building in Ashkelon where he was staying was struck by a rocket during a major flareup in November 2018 between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terror groups.

Israel also posthumously recognized Muhammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered by three Jewish extremists in 2014, as a victim of terror. Abu Khdeir, however, was an Israeli citizen from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. His family asked that his name be removed from the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial on Mount Herzl, but his official Defense Ministry status as a terror victim remains.

The suspect in the attack on Rabi, a student at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim, was charged last year with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle. The suspect was a minor at the time of the incident and cannot be named.

Each of the charges was qualified by the State Prosecutor’s Office as having been carried out “in the context of a terrorist act.”

Yakoub Rabi (R) and his daughter Rama (C) meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in December 2019. (Courtesy)

According to the charge sheet, the suspect departed from the Pri Haaretz yeshiva accompanied by several other students late on the evening of October 12, 2018. The group arrived at a hilltop between the Rehelim Junction and the Tapuah Junction, overlooking Route 60 — the West Bank’s main north-south artery. The suspect then hurled a large rock weighing roughly two kilograms (4.4 pounds) at a Palestinian vehicle, “out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere,” the indictment said.

Last May, the now-17-year-old was granted release to a restrictive house arrest as part of which he has been required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, be under the 24/7 supervision of two adult family guardians, and have no contact whatsoever with non-family members.

Kaboub said that she also plans on using the Sunday decision to file civil lawsuits against the suspect, the other students who accompanied him as well as the yeshiva.

She also said that the Sunday decision would be influential at a Supreme Court hearing in two months regarding a request by Rabi’s defense team to demolish the home of the suspected attacker. While the Israeli teen has not yet been convicted, Israeli law does not require a verdict before security forces carry out the punitive measure.

Yakoub Rabi (R) shakes the hand of President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 6, 2019. (Courtesy)

Kaboub said that while Yakoub and Rama survived the attack, they both suffer from severe psychological ramifications including PTSD that will require millions of shekels in treatment.

For his part, Yakoub Rabi told The Times of Israel that he has had a hard time finding work since the attack as many Israeli employers have refused to hire him upon learning of his identity.

The widower said he had met earlier this month with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who had offered to file a case in the International Criminal Court against Israel regarding his wife’s killing. Rabi’s lawyers said it was not yet clear whether the case would move forward at The Hague.

Rabi also met with President Reuven Rivlin last June at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem where Rivlin expressed his sympathies to the widower in person.

“I just want justice and to be treated and compensated the same way an Israeli would if he were a victim of a Palestinian terror attack,” he said.

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