Tel Aviv's Magistrate’s Court extended the arrest of two Palestinians suspected of raping a young mentally disabled Jewish girl. Despite initial reports claiming that the rape was nationalistically motivated, Police Spokesperson Meirav Lapidot said yesterday that the police does not deal with suspects of nationalistically motivated crimes. The police request to extend the suspects' arrest noted racism as the possible cause.
A police representative had already told a hearing this morning that they are ruling out nationalistic motivations. However, shortly thereafter, the police changed its assessment again: “Until the third suspect is arrested, we ask that suspicion of the nationalistic motivation not be ruled out.” Moreover, despite the primary suspect telling the court that “I did not do anything,” his arrest was extended for three days.
Ophir Katavi of the Public Defender’s Office thanked the police, which “allowed the issue of nationalistic motivation to be put to the side.” He added, “The suspect was in Israel with a legal permit and he fathers children. And now as a result of a dispute with neighbors, he is here (in court).”
Katavi stated further. “Until today, evidence to issue an indictment has not come to light and as time passes, the police are not succeeding in finding evidence that specifically refers them to the suspects.”
Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz said in her ruling that the plaintiff argued that the suspects threatened her in order to humiliate and frighten her. “She basically said that she did not give consent to what was done to her. But the difference between the first and second testimony of the plaintiff cannot be ignored,” said Poznanski-Katz.
The judge also stated that the police presented an additional document that “strengthens the case for the suspect’s involvement the perpetration of the crime, when viewed in tandem with the testimony of the plaintiff.”
The Prime Minister’s Facebook Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caused a stir when he accused “the press and political system” of not condemning the “nationalistic rape” on his Facebook page. However, the police had chosen to avoid publicizing the case, even though they usually inform crime reporters about cases of such severity.
Netanyahu wrote on his facebook page, “This is a shocking crime that calls out for wall-to-wall condemnation," the Prime Minister wrote on Thursday, "but for some reason such condemnation hasn't been heard – not in the media and not across the political system. We can only imagine what would have happened in the reverse case. We will charge the highest price, and use the full extent of the law against all those involved in this cruel incident."
On Friday, the PM published another post in which he acknowledged that the timing of his remarks had been inappropriate. "Regarding the post I published yesterday: The case, as reported, awakened deep pain and shock in me. Even so, it was not right for me to speak about it before the investigation was concluded, and I am sorry for that."
The two suspects are denying connections stated in reports indcating their involvement in the rape and the police are still carrying out its investigations. According to the plaintiff, the third suspect, who is still at-large, filmed the rape. A manhunt for him is ongoing.