Palestinian killed in rocket attack to be recognized as terror victim

The Defense Ministry will recognize a Palestinian man killed in Ashkelon by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip last year as a terror victim and compensate his family, Israeli television reported Wednesday.

Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, 48, from the West Bank city of Halhul, was in Israel on a work permit when the building in Ashkelon he was staying at was struck by a rocket during a major flareup in November between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terror groups.

Channel 12 reported the ministry decision and said the family would be compensated financially and receive a monthly stipend of over NIS 10,000 ($2,700.)

“We welcome the Defense Ministry decision,” family lawyer Mohammed Raheel told the channel. “However, clearly no financial compensation can heal the wounds.”

The decision came after Abu Asabeh’s family sued Israel for tens of millions of shekels, saying the time it took rescue workers to find his body led to his death.

Firefighters who searched the building evacuated several wounded people but did not find Abu Asabeh or a Palestinian woman who also lived there and was seriously injured by the rocket. The two were found by a local man over an hour after the impact.

Abu Asabeh’s relatives said his death was due to rescuers carrying out a quick search of the building and not continuing to look despite neighbors telling them people remained trapped underneath the rubble, and that they are therefore suing the state and rescue services for NIS 10 million (approximately $2.7 million).

“I say this is a screw-up by the fire service. They could’ve saved him but now they won’t speak with us,” Abu Asabeh’s brother Mazen told Channel 12 in January when they filed the suit.

“Our life was destroyed,” said Mazen Abu Asabeh. “Why didn’t they do their work like they were supposed to? How can it be that you enter a building that a rocket fell on and leave within five minutes?”

“All the evidence indicates the fire service left the scene while the deceased was still alive,” lawyer Raheel told Channel 12 Wednesday.

A fire services spokesperson told Channel 12 that the agency had investigated the incident and learned the lessons from the tragedy.

Following Abu Asabeh’s death, the Jewish Agency said it was planning to send support to the family from its Fund for the Victims of Terror. They were to be the first non-Israelis to receive money from the agency’s fund “in recent years,” a spokesman for chairman Isaac Herzog said.

Asked if they would accept the funds, family members said at the time they would.

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