13-year-old murdered in Israel has Miami ties

MIAMI (WSVN) - News of an Israeli teenager who was murdered while sleeping in her bed brought heartbreak to her relatives who have ties to South Florida.

The family tragedy sent shock waves around the world. Thirteen-year-old Hallel Ariel’s relatives, who have Miami connections, currently live half a world away, and the victim’s mother is now speaking to 7News in her first American interview.

The brutal attack on Ariel took place at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank where her family moved to because of a deep rooted faith.

Though thousands of miles away from this Jewish settlement in Israel, we were brought right there via Skype. “We live in Kiryat Arba,” said the victim’s mother, Rina Ariel. “It’s a Jewish settlement not far from Arab villages.”

Ariel’s 13-year-old daughter was stabbed to death in her sleep by a 17-year-old Palestine terrorist who was later killed by Israeli forces. “She wasn’t murdered, she was slaughtered,” Ariel said. “An Arab Muslim kid of 17 came to her room while she was sleeping, stabbed her in her heart, turned her over, stabbed her eight times.”

Hallel’s uncle held the camera and showed 7News how the terrorist got in the house. “My guess is that he went over here, into this area,” he said.

He also took us inside the house where the victim’s classmates gathered around to watch a recent video of her performing a dance routine.

Her uncle showed the close proximity the bed was from the window. “This is the bed,” her uncle said. “Now they have it full of stuff, and this is the window. [Within] seconds he was here.”

Inside the house, where the days of mourning are underway, you can see the emotion. You can see the hugs and the tears and how much it has affected everyone. And this touched people around the world. In fact, a group from Miami rented armored buses to travel to the area to pay their respects.

In the days following her murder, 7News saw Hallel’s mom at the funeral in deep pain. “She was a girl of light,” Ariel said. “A girl of love, and she met the darkness.”

And the gap of thousands of miles lessened when you hear her connection to South Florida. “Basically, our family is from Miami, Florida,” Ariel said.

Hallel’s grandmother spoke about her time on Miami Beach. “Hallel’s great-grandfather lived for many, many years. He was a stock broker in Miami Beach, and her grandfather lived in Miami,” said Prina Aronoff. “It’s mind boggling that a 17-year-old boy would stab a beautiful girl in her bed. I finished crying. Now, I feel something needs to be done.”

The family will not move. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized construction of hundreds of new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“This is the place where the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried,” Ariel said. “This is the place where Jewish history started many years ago, and this is the place we want to continue living. We’ll cry at night, and we will live in the morning.”

Hallel was a dual Israeli and American citizen. She had a dream of continuing her dancing. Her mom said she was full of love, compassion and honesty and hopes people will remember her that way.

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