Two Palestinians from villages near Hebron have been arrested for murdering an American tourist in December in a forest near Beit Shemesh, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Wednesday. One of the suspects has confessed to murdering another woman in the same area several months earlier.
The woman, Kristine Luken, was found dead on December 19 in a forest near Mata located outside Jerusalem. Searches for her were launched after another woman, Kaye Susan Wilson who Luken was hiking in the area with was found wounded and claimed to have been attacked by two Palestinian men.
US woman's body found in Jerusalem-Beit Shemesh area
Wilson was found with her hands bound and several stab wounds to her chest and back. Luken's body was found several hundred meters from the road between Mata and Beit Shemesh.
The suspects were arrested on December 21 in a joint IDF-Shin Bet
operation and during their interrogation confessed to perpetrating the
attack and reenacted it in the field.
During their interrogation, one of the suspects, Kafah Animat, confessed
to another murder last February of Neta Blatt, a teacher who was found
dead near Beit Shemesh.
The suspects also confessed to perpetrating additional stabbing and
shooting attacks with the declared goal of murdering Jews. They were not
believed to have been affiliated with an organized terrorist group.
Shin Bet sources said that the suspects succeeded in entering Israel
through gaps in the security barrier near the settlement of Beitar Illit
south of Jerusalem. They said that the suspects confessed to planning
the murder of Luken that day. “They decided they wanted to kill someone
that day,” a Shin Bet source said.
During the struggle, Wilson succeeded in stabbing one of the suspects in
the arm with a small pocketknife she carried with her as a tour guide.
This enabled the Shin Bet to identify one of the suspects, who was
imprisoned in Israel in the past in Israel, to Luken’s murder through
DNA samples that were found at the scene.
During the reenactment of the murder, the suspects led the investigators
to a backpack in which they had placed the cash, keys and cellular
phones. Wilson, who was stabbed in the chest, pretended to be dead and
was able to fool the attackers who then left the scene after killing Luken.
She then walked 400 meters barefoot, with her hands tied behind her back
and a blindfold on her eyes until she reached a parking lot where she
was found by other hikers.
Animat, one of the suspects who was involved in both murders, said that
after the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010 –
attributed to the Mossad – he decided to avenge the attack and stabbed a
couple near Beit Shemesh and a few weeks later opened fire at an IDF
patrol near the Gush Etzion Junction. The suspects also confessed to
committing a string of burglaries in the Beit Shemesh area.