Israeli officials announced Wednesday that four West Bank Palestinians have been indicted in the murder of American missionary Kristine Luken, who was stabbed to death last month while hiking in a forest west of Jerusalem. Eight men have been arrested in connection with the Dec. 18 attack that killed Luken and seriously wounded her friend Kay Wilson, a tour guide who moved to Israel from Great Britain in 1991.
In addition to the four indicted men, four other Palestinians are face charges of providing logistical support to the alleged killers. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspects were initially focused on criminal activity. But after the January 2010 killing of senior Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai - for which Hamas holds Israel responsible - the suspects decided to kill Israelis in revenge.
According to the indictment, two of the suspects encountered Luken and Wilson hiking in the forest. Wilson attempted to convince them that she and Luken were not Jewish. But one of suspects, grasping at a Star of David around Wilson's neck, demanded to know, "What's this?" Then the pair, Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, stabbed the women repeatedly, killing Luken. Wilson, seriously wounded, played dead. Eventually she managed to crawl to another group of hikers before collapsing.
Security officials said that, within 48 hours of the attacks, they arrested two men who confessed to the crimes. But they decided to withhold this information because they did not want to tip off other members of the group. The suspects are is accused in a series of murders, rapes, robberies and shooting attacks against the Israeli military and Jewish civilians dating back to 2009.