Sunday, September 18, 2011

Victim/Witness to American Tourist Kristine Luken's Murder Testifies in Jerusalem

A criminal hearing commenced at the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday (September 18) in the December 17, 2010, murder case of Kristine Luken, 44, an American tourist who was brutally killed by two Palestinian men last December (2010) in the foothills outside Jerusalem. Luken was visiting her good friend and tour guide, Kaye Susan Wilson, 46, a British-born naturalized Israeli, when the two women were viciously attacked and stabbed while on a weekend hike.

Although Wilson survived her attack, she nevertheless was stabbed 12 times and suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken sternum.

A month after the attacks on Luken and Wilson, Israeli investigators arrested and indicted two of the cell members, Kifah Ghanimat and Iyad Fatafa, who admitted that they had entered Israel illegally for the express purpose of killing Jews. During the investigation, the two men confessed to Luken's murder, as well as to the murder of Neta Sorek, whose body was found on February 2010, near the Beit Jamal Monastery outside Jerusalem. An indictment was filed against four of the cell members, who were charged with murder, attempted murder and rape.

Both women sensed something was very wrong when they first encountered the two men who asked for water, but the situation quickly changed when the assailants converged on them, tied their hands behind their backs and gagged them. At the time, Wilson was wearing a necklace with the Star of David, at which point one of the assailants ripped the symbol from her neck and stabbed her with what resembled a bread knife where the Star had been.

Despite not having to testify at the hearing, due to sufficient evidence provided by police, the prosecutor insisted Wilson testify, noting that she had undergone a traumatic event and had prepared herself to speak before the court.

After being stabbed where the Star of David had been, Wilson was surprised when she realized that she was still alive and feigned death until after the assailants had left, at which point she struggled to walk to an area where there were people who called for help, a distance of 1,300 meters. In her testimony, Wilson said she was conflicted in whether to stay and try to help her dying friend, but realized if she did, she herself would expire.

COMMENT: Israeli police told ABC News that they arrested the two assailants within 48 hours of the attack on the two women, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes.

The cell is accused in a string of murders, rapes, robberies and shooting attacks against the Israeli military and Jewish civilians dating back to 2009.
Luken was involved with the "Church's Ministry among Jewish people," first in the U.S., then in England, where she became a ministry staffer. She lived in northern Virginia.

Wilson’s testimony to the police after the attack provided enough information to break up a ring of 13 Palestinian terrorists responsible for two murders, two attempted murders, at least one rape and a series of other violent crimes. Forensic evidence, including a small penknife that Wilson used to stab one of her attackers, also implicated the two men in the crime.

The attacks on Luken and Wilson, as well as the recent murders of two Frenchwomen hiking in Argentina, are sad reminders that we must always be prepared as possible for the threats that lurk ahead.

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