Police apprehend 41-year-old woman from Rishon Lezion, who reportedly suffers from mental problems; the woman’s mental health worsened after surviving a deadly terror attack 18 years ago; last year she was arrested for desecrating grave of dead husband

Police on Monday arrested a woman suspected of desecrating the gravesite of an IDF soldier just days after he was killed in a West Bank raid last week.

It was reported Thursday that the grave of 21-year-old First Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal, in the military cemetery in the southern region of Be’er Yaakov, had been vandalized, only two days after he was buried.

קברו של עמית בן יגאל
Grave of Amit Ben Yigal


At the end of a four days long manhunt, police detained the 41-year-old Rishon Lezion resident, who is reportedly suffering from a mental illness.

According to police, the suspect became religious and turned ultra-Orthodox after surviving a suicide bombing in Jerusalem 18 years ago, which claimed many lives.

The woman began developing mental problems after the incident. Last year she was arrested for a similar incident after she desecrated the grave of her deceased husband.

Police said the incident stemmed from the woman’s worsening mental health condition rather than a criminal or nationalist intent, as feared initially.

Sources said during the police manhunt, the woman did not have her cellphone with her while and she did not contact anyone she knew, so investigators had difficulty locating the suspect.

משפחתו של עמית בן יגאל מעל חלקת קברו
The soldier’s parents at the gravesite


“I feel sorry for her,” said Barch, Ben Yigal’s father. “A normal person wouldn’t do such a thing. It wouldn’t do me any good to get mad, whoever did this needs to get therapy.”

Police have obtained footage apparently showing the woman desecrating for several hours the grave of an IDF soldier, killed last week in a West Bank raid, Ynet has learned on Sunday from sources familiar with the matter.

The IDF issued a statement last Thursday saying that excavation marks had been found on the gravesite, just two days after the soldier’s funeral.

Ben Yigal’s family was updated immediately and his father arrived at the cemetery accompanied by army officials shortly after.

Military rabbinate representatives also arrived at the scene to make sure that the honor of the fallen had not been desecrated.

The suspect was also arrested last year for a similar act after desecrating the grave of her deceased husband. Police have ruled out criminal or nationalist causes, as initially feared.

כניסה לבית העלמין הצבאי בבאר יעקב
Policmen securing Be’er Ya’akov cemetery where Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal is buried (Photo: Nadav Abas)


“In light of the incident, we have decided that the grave will be sealed and Golani soldiers will guard the area,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. “Any attack on the dignity of fallen soldiers must be condemned. The IDF and the police are working to investigate the incident,” it added.

“Defense Ministry personnel have been guarding Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal’s gravesite ever since we became aware of the incident,” read a statement. “The ministry expresses shock and disgust at the act and has been accompanying the Ben Yigal family and providing them with all the necessary support and assistance.”

Security forces are still conducting a manhunt for the rock thrower who killed Ben Yigal when he and his comrades were conducting arrests of four terror suspects in the village of Ya’bed.

As reported by Ynetnews