The horrible story of a gang rape of a 12-year-old girl from central Israel
by a group of young teenage boys has shaken Israel to its core. Sunday, seven additional boys were arrested, thus bringing the number of suspects to a massive 13.
However, the police are quick to say that the investigation is nowhere close to conclusion, and additional arrests are expected as they try to make sense of what they call a "horrendous puzzle” of sexual abuse. The police stress that the horrible case is currently topping their priorities.
Since the weekend, Dan District Police have been managing the investigation into the gang rape, which began last week before the police even knew the identity of the victim – but rather just of her existence.
According to current suspicions, a group of boys aged around 14 and older raped the 12-year-old girl on a number of occasions, at least one of which was filmed and took place on a school premises. The video and intelligence information led the police to the girl and then to the suspects. The police call the investigation a "horrendous puzzle."
A source well informed in the incident's details said it is possible the boys threatened the young girl they would "gossip about her" to coerce her to perform the sexual acts.
The girl has already given the police her testimony and the police already have the video documenting the attack perpetrated on school grounds. According to the investigation, in at least some of the incidents full sexual intercourse took place.
Lawyer Gadi Zilbershlag, who represents two brothers who are suspected of involvement in the incident, said "they did not know she was younger than them because she is taller and psychically larger. They are good kids and in this case it would be best to let them go (instead of extending their remand). They are young; a prolonged detention could cause long term damage. They can be interrogated without being remanded. They are 13 and 14, we do not want them to turn to crime."
The Education Ministry said in response to the incident: "The ministry views this event with the utmost severity and has contacted the police to learn the full extent of what happened. Educational teams are currently examining the damage sustained to those involved as well as their schoolmates to formulate intervention plans at a personal, class and school-wide level."
All of the suspects arrested are minors, and thus their remand has been extended only by a day. One of the boys was released after it was revealed he had no connection to the disturbing incident. During the weekend the first five suspects were arrested on suspicion of serious sexual offences – two of the boys were brothers.
Shahar Chai contributed to this report