There is a growing assessment among investigators and security forces that the murder of Reuven Schmerling, Hy”d, 70, on Wednesday, Erev Sukkos, in the Israeli Arab city of Kafr Qassem was nationalistically motivated, Channel 2 reported Motzoei Shabbos.
A court imposed a gag order on the details of the ongoing investigation hours after Reuven Schmerling, from Elkana, was found in a storage unit in the city’s industrial area on Wednesday afternoon, just before the start of Sukkos.
Earlier in the day, Schmerling traveled from his home to a warehouse he owned near Kafr Qassem. When his wife did not succeed in contacting him, their son Shai traveled to Kafr Qassem and found his father lifeless and with injuries to his entire body.
Police and Shin Bet forces opened a joint investigation into the murder, verifying possible motives including a possible work- or money-related dispute. Schmerling owned a coal business in Kafr Qassem and employed residents of the city and had business contacts there.
According to the reports, the Shin Bet currently believes the murder was planned, and not the result of a work dispute.
Being that Schmerling employed Arabs living under the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction in his business, investigators initially believed that the murder was the result of a work dispute, and not nationalistically motivated.
Schmerling was laid to rest in his hometown of Elkana on Friday, the first day of Chol Hamoed in Eretz Yisrael. Hundreds attended the levayah as friends and family eulogized him as a man of chessed, who always sought to help others.
The family has said it has “no doubt” Schmerling was a victim of terrorism. “For the ailing family, there is no doubt that this despicable murder was committed on nationalistic grounds,” a statement from the family said.
In an online post on Motzoei Yom Tov, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the family, while also promising that the killers will be brought to justice.
“I would like to send my condolences to the Schmerling family and the Elkana community over the murder of Reuven Schmerling. We will do everything to bring to justice those who committed this shocking murder. May his memory be a blessing,” Netanyahu wrote.
The family will begin shivah at the conclusion of Simchas Torah, Thursday evening.