The mother of Abdul Karim Adel Assi, the 19-year-old killer who stabbed an eighth grade teacher to death at a bus stop outside the Samaria city of Ariel on Monday afternoon, has condemned the murder and called on her son to surrender.
“My son has no right to hurt anyone. I condemn what he did and call upon him to turn himself in,” she said. “What he did won’t help anyone, to the contrary, it will destroy him and destroy everything,” she said.
Assi’s mother is an Israeli citizen from Haifa, a status that provided her son with Israeli citizenship as well, allowing him the ability to reside in Jaffa.
Shortly after he was born, however, Assi was separated from his parents. He was not reunited with his mother until 16 years later.
“Forty days after he was born he was taken from me and only 16 years later did I see him,” his mother related in a video interview posted on the website of Israel Broadcast Corporation’s Kan News service.
“I did not believe it’s my son,” his mother continued. “I want to continue the life I’ve chosen for myself, far from this. This is hard for me.”
Assi has been known to Israeli government social services for most of his life due to his background, and from having spent most of his adolescence on the streets.
In 2016, he arrived at Shanti House, a shelter for “at risk” youth in Tel Aviv. He spent several weeks living on and off at Shanti House. Eventually walked out due to his unwillingness to cease his frequent visits to his father in Nablus, where staff believed he was being taken advantage of and radicalized by hostile elements.
Assi stabbed Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal three times in the chest on Monday afternoon, continuing to pursue him even as his victim desperately made his way to a bus that stopped nearby, banging on the vehicle’s door to tell the driver he’d been attacked. Only then did Assi abandon his victim and flee with two knives still in his hands.
An off-duty IDF officer spotted the incident and gave chase in his private vehicle, hitting the fleeing attacker twice, but failing to stop him before he managed to escape in the direction of the Arab village of Kifl Harith.
Rabbi Ben-Gal, 29, had been on his way to a family brit mila (circumcision ceremony) in nearby Har Bracha, the town where he lived with his wife and four young children, when he was attacked. He was laid to rest there on Tuesday morning.
May his memory be for a blessing; may his blood be avenged.
Yona Schnitzer and TPS contributed content to this report.