newsIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

American-Israeli father says US abandoned his terror-victim son

Nick Merkin's teen son, a dual citizen, was attacked at a Ra'anana bus stop.

The scene of a terrorist attack in Ra'anana, north of Tel Aviv, Jan. 15, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
The scene of a terrorist attack in Ra'anana, north of Tel Aviv, Jan. 15, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

A 16-year-old dual American-Israeli citizen wounded on Jan. 15 in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Ra’anana while waiting at the bus stop outside his school has been abandoned by the United States, according to the victim’s father.

“We thought that we would receive some kind of communication from the U.S. government,” Nick Merkin, who is keeping the name of his minor son private, told JNS on Sunday.

Nick Merkin, whose son was wounded in a terrorist attack in Ra’anana on Jan. 15. Courtesy.

“They have many resources in the Middle East, including law enforcement to probe crimes against Americans. I would have expected some level of support as well as their involvement in the investigation,” he added.

A 79-year-old woman was murdered in the stabbing and car-ramming attack and another 16 people were wounded, including seven children and teenagers, one of whom remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Israeli forces arrested Mahmoud Zaidat, 44, and his nephew Ahmad Zaidat, 24, who were employed at a car wash in the Ra’anana industrial area without valid work permits. Both suspects, from Bani Naim near Hebron in Judea, were known to Israeli security forces.

The attack came shortly after Israelis marked 100 days of war against Hamas, following the Palestinian terrorist group’s massacre of some 1,200 persons.

Merkin described the U.S. administration’s silence as consistent with a policy of “both-sideism.”

If the U.S. government expresses any concern for Jewish Americans harmed by Palestinian terrorism, it could be perceived as favoring one side over the other in the conflict, according to Merkin.

Even so, Washington has taken a very clear stance regarding the death of 17-year-old Palestinian-American Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, who was killed last week in Judea during clashes with the IDF precipitated by stone-throwing Palestinians. The State Department has called for “an urgent investigation” and is seeking “accountability.”

“Quite frankly, this is a moral and ethical failure,” Merkin said, adding that it harms the security of U.S. citizens abroad.

“If the U.S. government fails to act with moral clarity, the world will become a much more dangerous place not only for Americans but for victims of terror worldwide,” he said. 

In 2001, during the height of the Second Intifada, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 people in the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, including two Americans.

A heroine in Jordan

Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi, who helped to plan the attack and drove the bomber to the final location, was later arrested and sentenced to 16 life sentences in prison.

However, she was released in 2011 as part of the deal in which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captive in the Gaza Strip, was exchanged for 1,027 jailed Palestinian terrorists.

Al-Tamimi moved to Jordan where she became a television host and is glorified as a hero.

“To this day, the woman has not spent a single day in Jordanian prison,” dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the attack, told JNS.

“Even if this was happening in Libya or Afghanistan, it would be unacceptable. But this is happening in Jordan, a prominent U.S. ally that receives more money from American taxpayers through USAID [the United States Agency for International Development] than any other country on Earth,” he added.

In 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charged al-Tamimi with conspiring to use and using a Weapon of Mass Destruction against American nationals abroad resulting in death. 

The charges were sealed and only made public in July 2017, something Roth sees as an attempt to cover up unsuccessful negotiations to get Amman to deport her to the United States.

“Jordan refused to abide by the extradition treaty signed between the countries in Washington in 1995, and the U.S. just accepted it. They make us feel like we are the problem,” he said.

In 2017, shortly after the charges were made public, the Jordanian Court of Cassation, the kingdom’s highest court of appeals, deemed the extradition treaty invalid because it had not been approved by the Jordanian Parliament as mandated by the country’s constitution.

Though she remains on the FBI’s list of “Most Wanted Terrorists” with a $5 million bounty on her head, al-Tamimi continues to live freely in Jordan.

On Jan. 16, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding that al-Tamimi be brought to the U.S. for trial. 

“Jordan’s refusal to extradite Ahlam al-Tamimi represents a breach of the 1995 bilateral treaty between the United States and Jordan,” the letter reads.

“Despite her confessions and incriminating statements, she has enjoyed immunity from justice, further exacerbating tensions and fostering an environment of hatred and extremism in the region,” it continues.

Roth, who has for years felt betrayed by American Jewish organizations, views the letter as a breakthrough.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, has for years been demanding the extraditions of al-Tamimi and Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy Hamas chief who was killed in Beirut in an alleged Israeli drone strike on Jan. 2.

Al-Arouri planned the kidnapping and murder in 2014 of 16-year-old American-Israeli Naftali Frenkel and two other teens, in 2014, in an incident that sparked the ensuing 50-day aerial war (“Operation Protective Edge”) against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“When an American gets killed or injured in a terror attack abroad, the U.S. government has the authority to demand the extradition of the suspect and indict them for crimes based on the Anti-Terrorism Act enacted by Congress in 1986,” Darshan-Leitner told JNS.

“When it comes to Jewish lives, the United States does not pursue Palestinians even though they have been doing so in the case of Pakistani and Iraqi terrorists,” she added. “The Palestinians sometimes walk free and do not pay any price for killing Jews while the U.S. does nothing.”

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