Stab victim 'could not wait to make aliyah'

Rescue workers carry the body of Luken after she was found dead near the road to Jerusalem last Sunday

Rescue workers carry the body of Luken after she was found dead near the road to Jerusalem last Sunday

Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of the stabbing in the Jerusalem Hills on Saturday in which an American tourist was murdered and a British immigrant to Israel wounded.

Kristine Luken, a Christian Messianic pilgrim from the United States, was walking with her friend Susan Wilson, a tour guide who made aliyah from Britain, near the Hirbet Hanut archaeological site south-west of Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon, when they were accosted by "two young Arab men".

According to Ms Wilson's account, the men asked them for water but, almost immediately afterwards, attacked them, tied them up and stabbed them. Having pretended to be dead, Ms Wilson managed to escape and call for help. She was taken to Hadassah Hospital, where she remains in a stable condition. Hundreds of police officers and soldiers spent the night scouring the area out of fear that Ms Luken had been kidnapped by terrorists. Only after dawn on Sunday was her body found under a bush near the road to Jerusalem.

Police have placed a gag-order on the investigation. "We are keeping all avenues open on whether this was a terror or criminal attack," said Jerusalem police commander Aharon Franko.

Susan Wilson was a member of Maidenhead Synagogue before her immigration to Israel. She lived in the settlement of Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem, and, a few years ago, joined the messianic Christian Mission to Jews (CMJ). She worked as a guide, taking groups of Christian pilgrims around Israel.

Kristine Luken worked at CMJ's base in Nottingham and had visited Israel a number of times before. The two women met earlier this year on a Holocaust education tour of Poland.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Synagogue, who knew Wilson when she was a member of the shul, spoke to her after the attack. "I remember her very well," he said. "She was enormously committed to Israel. She couldn't wait to make aliyah and did so in 1991. We'll be saying a prayer for her in shul this Shabbat."

    Last updated: 1:44pm, December 22 2010