The Southern District Attorney’s Office on Sunday filed indictments with the Be’er Sheva District Court against Khaled Abu Jouda and his half-brother Zahi, both 22, residents of Kuseife in the Negev, in the murder of Sergeant Ron Kokia in Arad in late November.
Khaled was accused of premeditated murder and possession of a knife for terrorist purposes. Zahi was accused of attempted murder, possession of weapons, obstruction of justice, accessory after the fact, and deterrence of a suspect during an interrogation.
The indictment attributes nationalist, religious and ideological motives to both suspects.
According to the indictment against Khaled, he has a degree in medical engineering and worked in the operating rooms of Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. He planned to use anesthetics to kidnap an IDF soldier with his brother’s help, as revenge for IDF activities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, and to “do something for the Palestinians.”
The same indictment also noted that one month before the attack, Khaled posted in his Facebook page the message: “Allah will save the land of the Muslims and from your enemies, the enemies of religion […] push them down and give us victory over the tribe of the infidels.”
Khaled and Zahi prepared for the murder by surveying the Arad area dressed as Jewish hikers, looking for a soldier they could stab, kill, and run away with his weapon. But each time they could not find a soldier who was sufficiently alone and isolated to be vulnerable to an attack.
Khaled purchased a car, Renault Mégane, to be used as the getaway vehicle. He also saved up $13,500 he planned to use in his hideaway.
According to the indictment, Khaled arrived at the central bus station in Arad on November 30. He spotted Sergeant Kokia by himself at a bus stop across from the mall in the center of town. Khaled approached him and stabbed him a few times the neck. Kokia tried to grab his gun, but Khaled pulled it out of his hands and fled the scene. The soldier then tried to approach passersby while hemorrhaging from his wounds, until he finally he collapsed and died.
After the stabbing, according to the indictment, Khaled rode home to Kuseife and elicited Zahi’s help in hiding the knife and the stolen rifle. The two separated the magazine from the rifle and placed them in a pit, wrapped in white cloth. Then Khaled washed the knife with water and hid it in order to conceal evidence.
The knife is yet to be found, according to the indictment.
The indictment states that the two agreed on the code word “pizza” to describe a potential victim, and so, on the day of the murder, Khaled called his brother when he had spotted kokia and said over the phone: “We have pizza.”
After the murder, on his way out of the city, Khaled called again and said that he “ate and was satiated.”
The two actually went to eat pizza together after hiding the weapons, and agreed that their alibi would be that they were together at the pizzeria in Arad at the time of the murder.
This account somewhat deviates from that of eyewitnesses at the scene who have said there were two Bedouin Israelis at the scene at the time of the murder.
Kuseife is a Bedouin town about an eight minutes’ drive from Arad in the Southern District of Israel. It was among a total of seven that were founded in 1982 as part of a government project to settle Bedouins in permanent communities. In 2016 Kuseife had a population of 19,718.