Crime scene [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Question marks surround an ongoing police investigation concerning the rape of a seven-year-old Jewish girl from a West Bank settlement in a case that shocked the nation when it was made public on Monday.
Police on Monday arrested Mahmoud Nazmi Abed Alhamid Katusa, a resident of Deir Qaddis near Modi’in Illit. The West Bank Palestinian was indicted for rape, assault and abduction, while police were still searching for two other men who allegedly witnessed and aided the crime.
However, a resident of the ultra-Orthodox settlement where the attack happened spoke with Radio 103 FM on Tuesday, saying that “We don’t think he [Katusa] raped that child. We’re afraid the attacker is still walking about free,” Maariv reported
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man claimed it “doesn’t make sense that an Arab takes a 7-year-old girl… and drags her away when there are thousands of children in the street and haredi adults, and she’s crying and resisting the whole time.”
Channel 12 reported on Tuesday that no document existed proving the rape of the child and that apart from the child’s identification of Katusa, no proof existed to connect him to the crime.
Furthermore, the girl only identified him after having spoken to her teacher at school, Channel 12 said.
The policewoman who spoke with the child said that while the attack clearly took place, the identification of Katusa is reliable.
Question marks further surround the actions of the police as it did not send the underwear of the 7-year-old rape victim to a forensic lab, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
Such an examination may have revealed the attacker’s DNA and thus solved the case. Police claimed the underwear was over a week-old at the time the family reported the crime.
Katusa provided the police with an alibi for the time and place the crime took place, upon which the investigators suggested the attack took place at a different time and location.
An anonymous source within the military prosecutor’s office told Channel 12 that they had no choice but to indict the man quickly notwithstanding the inconsistencies raised about his guilt. For example, police were unable to find genetic evidence proving that the child was present at the crime scene.
In response to these reports, head of the police unit of investigations Maj.-Gen. Gadi Siso will personally lead the investigation, Ynet reported on Tuesday.
The girl’s family, all haredi, only turned to the police after receiving an opinion by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky urging them to do so, Channel 12 reported.
The family has since fired its lawyer and ended its relationship with the Honenu National Legal Defense Organization, which provided the lawyer.
Darwish Nashaf, the lawyer representing the accused, compared the investigation to France’s infamous Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jewish-French captain was wrongly accused of spying for Germany at the end of the 19th century. Nashaf also told Channel 12 that Katusa was being cursed and threatened by inmates where he is being detained.
Nashaf further claimed that “shocking” revelations will turn the case “on its head,” Arutz Sheva reported.
Right-wing politicians labeled the rape an act of terrorism, yet the Military Advocate-General reported on Monday that there is no indication that the crime was motivated by nationalistic ideology.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avi Dichter took to Facebook on Monday, arguing that the criminals “would not dare to drag and rape a Palestinian child... [they did it] because she is Jewish. Because she is a girl!”
Dichter further shared a historical anecdote about how in 1944, pre-state Palmah fighters Yohai Ben-Non, Amos Horav and Yakovah Cohen castrated Araf Ahmed Shatawi, an Arab from Beisan (today Beit Shean) who had raped several Jewish women in the Jordan Valley, an example he feels should be followed. He called to “castrate their heads... and destroy their homes.”
Palestinians had issues with how Israeli politicians were quick to make “cynical usage of this serious crime, as if this man is a resistance activist.”
The journalist argued that the case must be framed as a criminal case and “not to smear the whole Palestinian nation as if we lack morality. No Palestinian would agree that [it is fine] to rape a child in such a barbaric way.”
This is not the first time Palestinians have argued that not all acts of violence against Jewish people in Israel can be justified by the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In April, 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher was raped and murdered by Hebron resident Arafat Irfaiya. While he claimed the acts were inspired by nationalistic ideology, the prosecutor accused him of criminal intent.
Both Hamas and Fatah warned Israeli authorities that should Irfaiya be placed with their prisoners in an Israeli penitentiary, he would be murdered, as they are unwilling to have their national struggle sullied with such sexual crimes.
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