Terrorist’s wife fled to Jordan before attack because he was violent – report

Source says gunman Fadi Abu Shkhaydam was violent toward wife Sou’ad, other relatives; in wake of attack, minister had cited woman fleeing as sign shooting was premeditated

Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, the terrorist who killed an Israeli civilian and wounded four others in a shooting attack in East Jerusalem's Old City on November 21, 2021. (Facebook)
Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, the terrorist who killed an Israeli civilian and wounded four others in a shooting attack in East Jerusalem's Old City on November 21, 2021. (Facebook)

The wife of the Hamas gunman, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who committed a deadly terror shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, reportedly fled to Jordan days  before the attack due to her husband’s violence.

Sou’ad Abu Shkhaydam was detained by Israeli security forces when she returned from Jordan through the Allenby Bridge crossing on Monday, and was transferred for interrogation to Jerusalem’s Russian Compound. She was later released.

Her lawyer said she was detained as she was returning from a visit to her terminally ill mother in Jordan.

However, Channel 12 news reported that the woman had traveled to Jordan due to a “serious family dispute.”

Unnamed Palestinian sources who have spoken with Sou’ad in recent days told the outlet that she had fled to Jordan because the marital relationship was violent.

“She said he beat her,” a source told Channel 12.

Police officers at the scene of a suspected shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on November 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The report said there were incidents of violence against both Sou’ad and other family members.

According to Channel 12, some officials believe that Sou’ad fleeing to Jordan may have played a role in the timing of the attack.

Much research, including by experts in the United Kingdom and at the United Nations, has found that those who are likely to be radicalized have a high rate of likelihood of a connection to domestic abuse — either as perpetrators, witnesses or victims. Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes, meaning the true rates are likely to be higher.

Fadi Abu Shkhaydam drew a submachine near the Chain Gate, which leads to the holy Temple Mount site, on Sunday morning and opened fire on passersby, fatally wounding South African immigrant Eliyahu David Kay and seriously wounding another Israeli yeshiva student. Three other Israelis were treated for moderate wounds.

Eliyahu David Kay, killed in a terror attack in Jerusalem on November 21, 2021. (Instagram / HaShomer HaChadash)

Israeli police officers returned fire and killed Abu Shkhaydam at the scene.

Minutes after the attack, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said it appeared to have been coordinated in advance, noting that Sou’ad had left the country three days earlier and claiming she had taken her children along with her.

The Abu Shkhaydam family disputed that account, saying that Sou’ad had traveled alone to Jordan to visit her mother who has cancer.

Several other family members were arrested and subsequently released by Israeli authorities, including Abu Shkhaydam’s daughter Aya, according to family attorney Medhat Diba.

The Israel Police did not respond to a request for comment.

In Shuafat, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam raised five children — three boys and two daughters — and taught Islamic law at a boys high school, for which he received a salary from the Jerusalem municipality. According to Israeli authorities, he was a member of Hamas’s civilian branch, rather than its armed wing.

Thousands attended the Monday funeral of Kay, who was killed in the attack, in Jerusalem. Kay, a recent immigrant from South Africa who was employed at the Western Wall as a tour guide, had been walking to work when he was shot dead.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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