Arab construction workers charged with poisoning Jewish family

Police on Sunday lifted a gag order on a case in which three Arab construction workers are accused of attempting to kill the members of a Ra'anana family in 2011 by breaking into their home and poisoning their food.

The suspects – Hossam Abd El-Rahim, 37, from the Israeli Arab town of Tira, Otman Nas'ara, 47, from the town of Beit Furik in the West Bank, and another man whose name is still under a gag order – will be charged on Sunday with murder, conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary.

According to the charges, the three were employed at a construction site next to the home of the Lerner family, with whom they were "slightly acquainted," according to Eyal Lerner.

Last October, the Lerner's house was broken into by burglars. Police who were called to the scene determined that whoever had broken in was likely in possession of the key to the apartment.

As police questioned the family, Eyal Lerner complained of weakness, passed out, and was evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava. Shortly afterwards, his wife and son were also hospitalized, as well as one of the policemen who questioned the family. Later, Lerner's situation deteriorated and he was transferred to intensive care.

Police immediately suspected poisoning, and laboratory examinations found that large doses of pesticides had been added to food and drinks inside the house.

Lerner later told Army Radio that he began to feel ill after drinking from a bottle of grapefruit juice. "I noticed it had a bad taste, but I didn't think it had anything to do with the burglary. We called the police, and three policemen arrived very quickly. I then started to feel dizzy and nauseous, and then I vomited. I lay down in the balcony. Someone called an ambulance, and that's all I remember. I lost consciousness." Lerner added that the police volunteer, who was also poisoned, drank water from a pitcher that was in the apartment.

Police managed to locate the suspects in July.

In August, a police force, accompanied by IDF soldiers, entered Beit Furik and arrested Nas'ara. The same pesticides that were used for the poisoning were found during a search of his house. In questioning, Nas'ara admitted to trying to murder the family, citing nationalistic motives.

Shortly afterwards, El-Rahim was arrested in Tira. While several items belonging to the Lerner family were found in El-Rahim's home, he denied attempting to murder the family, saying the three had planned a routine burglary and that Nas'ara acted alone.

However, when the suspects were taken to the scene of the crime, they were able to recreate the details of the crime, confirming evidence assembled by police.


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