‘Apartheid justice’ responsible for wrongful arrest in rape case, says Arab MK

“This is how an apartheid-style justice system looks, a Palestinian is guilty until proven innocent,” said Hadash MK Ofer Kassif.

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June 26, 2019 02:45
2 minute read.
‘Apartheid justice’ responsible for wrongful arrest in rape case, says Arab MK

ARABS HAVE full representation in the Knesset, with MKs such as Ayman Odeh (Joint List).. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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Arab MKs denounced the police on Tuesday over its handling of the rape case of a seven-year-old child in one of the West Bank settlements that has roiled the country in recent days, and alleged that the incident is a result of Israel’s ongoing control over the Palestinians.

IDF Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Sharon Afek withdrew an indictment against Palestinian Mahmoud Katusa on Tuesday morning, following numerous failings of the police investigation that led to his arrest.

Several ministers and MKs who alleged that the rape was motivated by Palestinian nationalism have yet to respond to Katusa’s release and the withdrawal of the indictment against him.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan initially called on the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to investigate the rape as a terrorist attack. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman also described it as a terrorist incident, and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the death penalty for Katusa.

“This is how an apartheid-style justice system looks – a Palestinian is guilty until proven innocent,” said Hadash MK Ofer Cassif in response to Katusa’s release. “Only because of public and media pressure was it revealed that there was no evidence for putting him on trial. In the meantime, the rapist is walking around freely, and [Public Security] Minister Erdan, the liar and inciter, is still a minister.”

Balad MK Heba Yazbak said that the “negligence of the police” in its investigation of the rape case was “part of the system of occupation and racism,” and that Katusa had been held in detention for two months without sufficient evidence “while politicians cynically used the outrageous rape incident for the purposes of incitement and propaganda, while at the same time the law enforcement agencies ignored the fact that the real criminal has still not been caught.”

The chairman of the joint Hadash-Ta’al Party, MK Ayman Odeh, said that the only “nationalist” motivation in the whole case was that of the police, in reference to comments by several politicians, including Liberman, that the rape was a terrorist incident motivated by Palestinian nationalism.

“The military advocate-general’s corps, which maintains the occupation of millions of Palestinians, cannot do justice,” said Odeh.

Meretz MK Michal Rozin was critical, however, of the politicization of the incident by both the Arab and right-wing political figures, saying that the critical issue was that of sexual violence, which she said is not being adequately tackled across all sectors of Israeli society.

“The majority of incidents of sexual abuse against minors and adults are closed without an indictment or trial because of many failures in the system, whether it is a lack of child investigators, faulty investigative processes or faulty collection of evidence,” Rozin told The Jerusalem Post, noting that 80%-90% of such cases are closed without a conviction.

“Despite the public’s surprise, this incident is not unusual in that the state does not deal with sexual abuse and violence and this failure happens every day, every moment, across societal sectors, amongst all parts of the population and in all its spectrum,” she said.

The MK insisted that “the motivation for rape can unequivocally be nationalistic,” but objected to the fact that some politicians were speaking out only when such a motivation was a possibility and not in other cases.

“When the motivations are just rape, when a father, uncle, grandfather, neighbor, teacher or anyone else commits rape, then people don’t cry out,” Rozin said. “Rape is rape, and we need to eradicate it.”

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