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Jewish bell pepper grower Avi Ben-Zion murdered in cold blood

Jewish grower and exporter Avi Ben-Zion was murdered on Monday. The perpetrators were Palestinian car thieves. They pulled him out of the car and hit him with an iron bar. He was transported by helicopter to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.

Soldiers of the Duvdevan elite unit arrested three Palestinian suspects. Ben-Zion's wife and four daughters are convinced that the motive was nationalistic: Avi Ben-Zion was murdered because he was a Jew. "Otherwise they would have just taken his car." His family decided to donate his organs. Avi Ben-Zion was 63 years old.

Avi Ben-Zion had been working as a bell pepper grower in the Jordan Valley since 1976, where Palestinian inhabitants have taken over through the years. He cultivated around 60 hectares of bell peppers, and a few hectares of grapes. In addition, the company sold cherry tomatoes and exotic fruit. His wife Niva worked in fig sales, and handled the bell pepper business. Last month, we visited her in Israel.

David Elhayani of the Jordan Valley Regional Council remembers him as "a great man, humble, modest and a farmer through and through." According to neighbours, Ben-Zion worked with hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian workers, all of whom he treated equally and with respect.

Pieter de Ruiter of 4 Fruit Company knew Avi since 2007, and formed a special bond with him. "He was a really friendly man. It's unbelievable that this had to happen to him. Where his colleagues in the Jordan Valley carried a weapon, he consciously chose not to do so, because he thought this radiated aggressiveness. My wife is also Jewish, so there was a connection there right away. I wasn't allowed to go to Israel without my wife, and they always visited us together as well when they were in the Netherlands. The four of us also went on trips to Jordan and Koper. When there was a small business conflict, he immediately tried to find a solution in a mild and friendly manner. When his daughters were serving in the army and didn't get good food, he drove 200 kilometres to bring them nice food, he was that kind of man!"

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