Palestinians arrested for Jerusalem tourist stabbing

A group of Palestinian men involved in both terror and criminal activity have been arrested in connection with the stabbing of two women in the Jerusalem Hills last month. Two of the men were indicted for the murder of American tourist Kristine Luken and the serious wounding of her friend, British immigrant Kaye Wilson.

Kifah Ghanimat and Iyad Fatpatah, residents of Palestinian villages near Hebron, were arrested a month ago after a joint investigation by the Shin Bet (Israel's internal security service) and the police identified the two men as those who had attacked, bounded and repeatedly stabbed Ms Luken and Ms Wilson.

The two women had been hiking near the Hannut ruins, west of Jerusalem. Ms Wilson survived the attack after feigning death. She had managed to wound slightly one of the attackers, whose blood was found on the shoelaces with which the men had bound the hands of their victims. The blood matched DNA samples of his blood, taken while he was under arrest for a series of robberies.

The two confessed to having participated in a long series of terror attacks, criminal robberies and sexual offences, along with other two other men.

These including the fatal stabbing of another female hiker a year ago, the stabbing of a couple who were severely wounded near the town of Bet Shemesh, a number of shootings at Israeli vehicles, three cases of rape and attempted rape and a long string of robberies. All four men were charged on Wednesday at Jerusalem District Court.

A senior Shin Bet official said on Wednesday that "these are men who have been involved in both criminal and terror activity for years but they are not members of any recognised terror group, like Hamas, which made it harder to track them down.

"They made their living by entering Israel and robbing from farms and villages around Bet Shemesh and occasionally, they simply decided that they wanted also to kill Jews."

    Last updated: 9:20am, January 27 2011