(photo credit: Courtesy)
Four days after the badly beaten body of Reuven Shmerling, 70, was found by police in a building he owned in the Kafr Kassem industrial zone, police and the Shin Bet said the murder may be nationalistically motivated.
While details of the investigation remain under a gag order, Shin Bet released a brief statement Sunday saying that two unidentified Palestinians residents of Kabatiya in the West Bank were arrested and interrogated over the weekend for the murder.
“The findings collected so far in the framework of the Shin Bet investigation indicate that the terrorist attack was motivated by a nationalistic motive,” the security agency said. “The details of the investigation and suspects, whose identities remain under gag order, continues.”
Shmerling, of Elkana, was initially believed to have been murdered by disgruntled Arab employees over a monetary dispute. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Sunday that the investigation has since changed direction.
“Police and the Shin Bet are now investigating nationalistic motives,” he said, noting he could not comment further amid the court-imposed gag order.
According to a first-responder, Shmerling was initially found by his son.
“When we arrived at the scene we were led to a building where we found a man of about 70 lying unconscious,” said Magen David Adom paramedic Adi Marciano.
“He was not breathing and had no heartbeat. We performed medical tests and he did not show any signs of life.
We were forced to declare his death at the scene.”
Shmerling is survived by his wife and four children.
In a statement, Asaf Mintzer, head of the Elkana Local Council, expressed shock over the murder, adding that Shmerling’s family intended to celebrate his 70th birthday the day he was killed.
“It is impossible to understand a situation in which a 70-year-old Jew goes to Kafr Kassem and is found slaughtered,” he said.