Yair Altman
February 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Police reported Wednesday that it has completed its investigation of the stabbing incident that occurred two weeks ago in Jerusalem, during which 24-year-old Hussam Rawidi was killed.

Four Jewish teenagers were arrested in connection to the incident, but only one is suspected of stabbing Rawidi, a resident of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Semiramis. The inquiry revealed that the perpetrator used a razor, and not a knife. Police will recommend he be tried for manslaughter and not murder as the stabbing was preceded by a scuffle.

The perpetrator was arrested recently after turning himself in.

Investigators said that three of the suspects recounted the events, and that charges against all four will be filed in the coming days. Police said that the suspects were under the influence of alcohol on the day of the murder. The motive for the assault was unclear, but investigators insinuated that the suspects instigated the attack over nationalistic reasons, but did not plan the stabbing.

'It started because we're Arabs'

Jerusalem police learned that the February 10 incident occurred on Angelo Levi Bianchini Street in central Jerusalem when a clash broke out between two Jewish teenagers aged 16-17, and two young Arab men. Two other Jewish teenagers joined the fight later, one of whom stabbed Rawidi and his friend with a razor. The assailants fled the scene following the incident.

"I know that everything started because we are Arabs," said Murad Julani, who was with Rawidi on the night of the attack. "They heard that we were speaking Arabic, and started cursing and threatening us."

According to Julani, the Jewish youths jumped on them as they entered the alley. He says they attempted to "slaughter him" but only managed to inflict a cut on the back of his neck.

"After they ran away, I pulled Hussam up and we left the alley to call for help," Julani recalled. "He could hardly walk. Suddenly I saw that his shirt was soaked in blood. Still conscious, he collapsed on the floor…I tried to stop the blood until the ambulance arrived."

Officers from the Lev Habira Police Station who responded to Julani's call apprehended two teenagers that fit the suspects' description. During the arrest one of the suspects threw away the blood-covered razor and a pair of glasses. Meanwhile, Rawidi was taken to the hospital, where he died a few hours later.

The two suspects, who reside in settlements, denied any connection to the event, and claimed that they were not aware that their friend had a razor. Their remand was initially extended by six days, then extended again.

After questioning the two, the investigators learned the identity of the alleged stabber, who turned himself in at a settlement checkpoint three days ago. He admitted to buying the razor at a barbershop a few hours before the fight broke out in order to cut his hair. He hid the blade under a trash can, fearing that it would be discovered on his person later. Another suspect, also from Jerusalem, kept silent during questioning.

'Palestinian initiated assault'

Attorney Ariel Atari, who represents one of the settlers, claimed that his client's detention was unnecessary. "They didn't know and didn’t assume that that their friend was carrying a knife," he said. "They didn't know that the evening on which they went out to have fun, like every adolescent their age, will end in such a tragic manner."

He added that he estimates that his client will be released within the week.

Attorney Yair Golan, who represents the other settler, claimed that the primary suspicion against his client has to do with the allegation that he tried to dispose of the murder weapon.

"He is a 16-year-old minor without a criminal background, who got caught up in a fight," he said. "The police agreed that he did not commit the stabbing, and he claims that he did not even know who held the knife." He also estimated his client should be released soon.

Attorney David Halevy, who represents one of the Jerusalem residents, claimed that Rawidi was the one who initiated the assault.

"As we understand it, the deceased found his death at a location far from the scene of the event," Halevi noted. "My client has no connection to the stabbing, and he was not aware of its occurrence."

'We must fight racism together'

Despite the devastating loss, Rawidi's father, Hussein, said he continues to believe in coexistence, and called Jews and Arabs to fight racism as one.

"The problem is not the personal and tragic story of my son," he said. "If we don't fight racism, Hussam will not be the last one murdered under these circumstances."

Despite requests from Palestinian elements, Hussein Rawidi insists not to turn his son's murder into a symbol.

Fearing that his funeral would cause riots, the police initially prohibited Rawidi's family from burying him in Jerusalem. His body was held by the police for five days, until the court ordered it to be returned to his family.


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