Lebanon Infiltrator Turns Out to Be Israeli Arab Wanted in Vehicle Deaths

The border fence between Israel and Lebanon. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prosecutors will decide Wednesday whether to charge Jihad Salah, an Israeli Arab resident of Nahariya, with visiting an enemy state and absconding from justice – after he was caught last month trying to sneak back into Israel from Lebanon, where he had fled to escape prosecution on charges related to his killing of two Israelis a year and a half earlier.

On October 8, 2016, Salah lost control of his vehicle and slammed into another vehicle on Road 70 in northern Israel, killing two Israelis – Assaf Katz and his mother Rachela. Police said that Salah had been intoxicated after smoking hashish an hour earlier.

Eight months later, in June 2017, prosecutors indicted Salah on two charges of vehicular manslaughter. Salah was arrested, but prosecutors agreed not to hold him until the end of proceedings, even though he declared in court that he intended to leave Israel – and in October of 2017, he followed through on his threat and disappeared. In February, IDF soldiers responded to a report of a suspicious figure who was hiding in the area of the border fence with Lebanon – and it turned out to be Salah. He was re-arrested, and this time was sent to prison until the end of the trial.

Speaking to Walla News, the family of the two victims said that they now had an opportunity for closure. “We have waited for this moment, even though we didn’t believe it would ever come,” Rina Peretz, the wife of Katz, said. “I wanted to know that he would get what was coming to him. I have complaints about everyone involved, considering the proceedings against him and the refusal to keep him locked up. They let him escape.”

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