Israel has arrested 5 Israeli Yeshiva high school students for the fatal stoning of Aisha Rabi, a 48-year old Palestinian woman in the West Bank last year. The fatal attacks on Palestinian civillians by Israeli settlers have increased ahead of the national elections in April.According to the National Public Radio (NPR), Rabi was riding back home with her family when loads of stones were thrown at her family’s car. Stones struck her head and killed her. The Associated Press reports her husband and eight children survived. Many attended her funeral.

Her widowed husband, Yacoub, told Haaretz, “I don’t have any doubt it was the settlers.” He explains that his family was attacked near a couple of radical Israeli nationalist settlements.

After Rabi’s death, right-wing settlers desecrated the Sabbath to warn students at the Pri Haaretz Yeshiva that they may be arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet security service for the murder.

While it is religiously prohibited to desecrate the Sabbath, local Rabbis sympathized with the settler suspects, complaining that the Israeli security officials have become harsher on settlers.

The Israel National News quoted Rabbi Lior as saying, “According to my humble opinion, according to what I was told, that one of the boys after he had undergone suffering in prison, wanted to commit suicide. In other words, the conditions are not as reasonable as they are in a democratic country. The boys who came to encourage and strengthen the spirit of the youngsters are considered saviors.”

Ever since Prime Minister Netanyahu called for early Israeli national elections, there has been an uptick in the number of violent attacks against Palestinians and their property. Haaretz reports Israeli settlers committed 482 violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank in 2018 alone.

The families of the suspects have cited unfair treatment by state officials. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke to one of the mothers of the suspects in a public broadcast.

“Be strong, and you know, it will end in the coming days, I estimate,” Shaked told her.

Despite being internationally criticized for his right wing policies in support of settlers, Israeli politicians such as Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked claim Netanyahu is strict on them.

It is expected that the suspects’ punishments will be eased as more high profile religious and government authority sympathize with them and call for harsher law against Palestinians.