Imprisoned terror suspect wins elections in Palestinian town

During the election campaign, many of the town’s dignitaries called to vote for the imprisoned terror suspect, calling him a “hero who fights for the homeland.”

By Aryeh Savir/TPS

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) town of Turmus-Ayya in Samaria held elections for the town’s leadership on Saturday and elected Abu Rifat Shalabi, one of 13 candidates.

Abu Rifat is currently in Israeli custody due to his suspected involvement in a recent deadly terror attack.

He is a relative of Muntasar Shalabi, also a resident of the town, who carried out the murderous attack at Tapuach Junction in May, shooting and killing yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta and wounding two others.

After the attack, Abu Rifat was arrested on suspicion of helping Muntasar escape from the Israeli security forces. Muntasar was captured a few days later and the IDF demolished his house in July.

Abu Rifat, who has been imprisoned in Israel for several months, ran in the elections from prison and won a large majority of the votes.

During the election campaign, many of the town’s dignitaries called to vote for him, calling him a “hero who fights for the homeland.”

Another senior official in the town said that a vote for Shalabi was a “message to the occupation” that the town’s residents were behind him, and that residents view “the war on Palestine as more important than personal gains in favor of clans and tribes.”

Shalabi will serve as honorary head of the town until his release, and another candidate named Naif Shalabi will fill the position of acting mayor.

Shalabi joins other heads of PA towns and cities who have been imprisoned for acts of terrorism. Laila Ghannam, the governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh since 2014, has supported terrorism and called for attacks on numerous occasions.

Hebron’s Mayor Tayseer Abu Sneineh was as among the terrorists convicted in the 1980 Hebron terrorist attack in which six Jews, including three Israelis, two American Israelis, and one Canadian, were killed, and another 20 Jews were injured as they returned home from Sabbath prayer services at the Cave of the Patriarchs. He was sentenced to life in prison but was later released in a prisoner exchange.