Nathaniel Roie Arami.
(photo credit: COURTESY THE FAMILY)
It “appears” that the death of a construction worker who fell 11 stories in Petah Tikva on September 16 was the result of a terrorist attack, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Aharonovitch made the clarifying comments after sending mixed messages earlier in the day while speaking to the Knesset Interior Committee about whether the death at the construction site was an accident or a nationalist murder.
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court had hours earlier partially lifted a gag order on the investigation into Nathaniel Roi Arami’s death, leaving an equally mixed message regarding the incident.
While speaking to the Knesset panel, the minister said, “According to the findings, when there is no information and there is no certainty about if it [the case] will go down the path of a criminal or terrorism [investigation], it’s impossible to say if it was an attack or not.”
Later, however, Aharonovitch said, “In the end, unfortunately, it was an attack, but we don’t need to say that it was intentional and to take this into the criminal direction.
We need to wait for the results, and at the moment when things are certain, it’s possible to go public.”
Until his later comments to the Post, it was unclear from Aharonovitch’s statements, particularly since no new arrests have been announced, whether he was confirming that there was an attack and explaining why investigators released suspects earlier on, or saying that it was still unclear why Arami fell to his death.
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When asked by the Post whether Aharonovitch had determined that the incident was a nationalist crime, his spokesman said that in a response to MK Orit Struck, the minister said that it is not up to him to determine if it was a terrorist attack but, rather, the job of the police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – adding that it appeared that it was a terrorist attack.
The statement published by the court had also cut in two opposite directions.
On one hand, the court said that the Shin Bet had questioned three people under the possibility of their being involved in murdering Arami for “nationalist reasons.”
On the other hand, the court said the Shin Bet and police had released the threesome, since “there was no legal justification for continuing to hold them.”
Despite the day’s events, no final decision has been made about whether anyone will be indicted in connection with Arami’s death.
The court partially lifted the gag order after Tuesday’s motion filed by Arami’s family, which has claimed virtually since day one that he was murdered.
A statement by the Honenu Zionist legal aid organization, representing Arami’s family, said the request came after receipt of information from investigators regarding “the circumstances of the murder which were not cleared for publication.”
The statement added that the family had received even this information only after an October 22 order by the Petah Tikva court obligating the police to provide it updates on the investigation.
At a press conference outside the court, the family said that publication of the details of the investigation would have “broad public consequences.”
The family said that it regretted having to turn repeatedly to the court to intervene, but that the police “had left the family no choice,” as it had abused and taken for granted the family’s patience and silence on the issue for too long, without giving explanations.
Although initially Arami’s death was presumed to be an accidental fall, by the end of September the police were investigating the incident as a possible terrorist attack.
Arami fell to his death while rappelling down from the 11th floor of a building at the construction site where he worked. It remained unclear, however, how the married father of two, who was expecting a third child, lost control.
Ben Hartman contributed to this story.
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