An Israeli man whose two children had just arrived on a visit from the U.S. where they lived with their mother has admitted to stabbing them to death overnight, Israeli media reported Thursday.
Police believe that the suspect wanted to take revenge on his wife, the children’s mother, who has lived with them in the U.S. for the past three years after the couple’s bitter divorce and custody battle. The Times of Israel reported that they had arrived in Israel just hours before they were killed.
The Israeli news site Walla, quoting police sources, reported that the man tied up his children – a 14-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, laid them on the floor and then proceeded to stab them multiple times.
Shortly after, he walked into the police station and admitted to the murder.
The mother who was in the U.S. on Wednesday, was told of the killings and made arrangements to travel immediately to Israel, Ynet reported. As of this writing, police had not released the names of the suspect, the children or their mother or where in the U.S. they lived.
Town Secretary Meir Hindy told Israel Radio that the couple went through a messy divorce three years ago. A neighbor told Walla that though the father wanted to keep his children in Israel, a court ruled they could move to the U.S. with their mother as long as they visited Israel twice a year.
Osnat Azulai, a neighbor in the central Israeli town of Yashresh who has known the suspect since he was a boy, expressed shock at his alleged crime, describing him as respectful and religious.
“It was very difficult for him to be without his children. That’s one of the reasons he fought in court to leave them in Israel. That’s probably what broke him,” Azulai told Walla.
The Times of Israel quoted other Israeli media reports which said the father told police he killed his children “so that their mother’s life would be over.”
Local police commander Yehuda Ben-Atar told Ynet that the police had received a previous domestic violence complaint against the father before the couple divorced.
The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv was informed about the killings, as the children and their mother hold U.S. citizenship.
Mendi Haviv, the regional commander for ZAKA, Israel’s victim’s identification unit, said, “The sight was very difficult, a very difficult scene. When volunteers arrived, we had to prepare them before they entered a scene like this, even though they’re used to [working at the scene of] car accidents.”