Teenager detained from Awarta overnight

April 18, 2011

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Awarta early morning Monday, ransacked a home and detained a 16-year-old teenager, the mayor of the village Qays Awwad told Ma’an.

Tawfiq Hindawi Qawareiq, was taken from his home at 1:30 a.m., and appears to be the latest detained in connection with an investigation into the murder of a settler family in March.

Qawreiq was taken to the Huwwara military base not far from the village, Awwad said. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the arrest, but could not offer further comment.

On Sunday, Israel lifted a gag-order on details from the case, identifying two prime suspects in the stabbing of the Fogel family, teens from Awarta Hakim Awad and Amjad Awad. Israeli police said the two had confessed to the crime, and were being held with four others.

Six of the men arrested in connection with the case are members of the Awad family from the village of Awarta, and a seventh, a resident of Ramallah, was a friend of one of the suspected accomplices, a police document said.

Hakim Awwad’s mother, however, has refuted the allegations, saying Sunday night that her son was physically incapable of carrying out the attack, citing a November testicular surgery that prevented him from walking long distances and necessitated using the toilet every hour.

“It wasn’t my son who did it,” she said. “It is impossible that it’s him, he was with me the whole night that the incident happened.”

According to a report published Monday in Israeli news site Ynet, the family of Amjad have also maintained his innocence, saying he was in the village at the time of the murder.

Ynet also published an interview Monday with relatives of the slain Fogel family. Father and grandfather to the five victims, and now guardian of the three surviving children, Haim Fogel was quoted as saying, “During the shiva we kept thinking – maybe it would turn out to be something else, a crazy person. Now it’s clear – this was an act of hate and it’s seeping through. While the Palestinian Authority might say they condemn the crime, I still blame them.”

No charges have been laid.

Awarta officials and human rights groups have said Israel’s investigation of the killings was carried out without regard for the law or human rights.

Mass arrests were carried out for a month after the murders. Hundreds of villagers were taken from homes during overnight raids, compelled to give fingerprints and DNA samples, interrogated for hours, days or weeks without access to a lawyer, and arbitrarily detained without evidence.

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