State appeals decision to release Israeli accused of murdering Palestinia

Earlier Tuesday, the Lod District Court surprised the state when it issued a decision to release the minor, whose identity is under a gag order.

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May 17, 2019 03:01
3 minute read.
Protesters demonstrate at the entrance to Rehelim against Jewish youths from the nearby Pri Ha’aretz

Protesters demonstrate at the entrance to Rehelim against Jewish youths from the nearby Pri Ha’aretz Yeshiva who are suspected in the killing of Aysha Rabi (inset) in October. (photo credit: OFER MEIR/FLASH90)

 
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The Supreme Court heard the state prosecution’s appeal on Thursday to block the release of the Jewish minor currently on trial for the murder of a Palestinian woman last October.

A source from the minor’s side said that there was a high chance that the Supreme Court would confirm a lower court’s decision to release the minor, but that the decision might take a few days.

The state prosecution would not hazard an estimate of how the Supreme Court might rule in light of the closed door hearing on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Lod District Court shocked the state when it issued a decision to release the minor, whose identity is under gag order.

The surprise decision came the same day that it was publicly revealed that the state’s forensic specialist, Chen Kugel, contradicted aspects of its case, most notably arguing that he does not believe that the Palestinian woman, Aysha Rabi, was killed by a rock.

According to the indictment filed by the state against the minor in January – based on finding the minor’s DNA on a rock found at the scene – the rock thrown by the minor killed Rabi.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the state claims that Kugel did not invalidate that the minor’s DNA was on the rock; did not invalidate most of the state’s narrative regarding Rabi’s killing; and did not provide an alternative explanation as to what killed Rabi other than the rock.

In addition, the Post has learned that the state will maintain that a Palestinian medical opinion, which supports the state’s theory that the rock killed Rabi, should trump Kugel’s opinion on that point because the Palestinian expert had access to her body, while Kugel only had access to photographs.

Despite the state’s claims, the revelation that Kugel contradicted a central aspect of the case could lead to the minor’s release in the very near future – absent the Supreme Court issuing a reversal – and could also eventually undermine the entire case.

This would be a highly embarrassing result for the state prosecution, especially when last week it had celebrated a ruling by the district court recognizing 16 pieces of evidence which helped to prove its case.

The reasoning of the district court’s Tuesday decision was kept classified, so it was unclear if Kugel’s opinion had altered the court’s overall view, or how the court is weighing the other evidence versus this opinion. But the timing looked damaging for the state, even as it claimed that Kugel’s opinion was before the court prior to Tuesday.


RABI, A mother of nine, was hit by rocks and killed while being driven in a car by her husband near the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank on October 12.

The indictment also included charges for throwing a rock at a moving vehicle and causing intentional damage to property – both in terrorism circumstances.

According to the indictment, the minor and some friends from Yeshivat Pri Haaretz walked to the top of a hill, which was only meters from Route 60, on the evening of October 12, 2018.

The minor allegedly picked up a rock weighing nearly 2 kg. with the intention of throwing it at a vehicle being driven by an Arab.

Rabi and her family were driving on the highway at a speed of 100 kph.

As the car approached, the minor identified that car by its Palestinian Authority white and green license plate. He then threw the rock toward the car with the intention of harming those in the vehicle, fatally hitting Rabi in the head.

Her husband maintained control of the car despite the attack and the smashed window, potentially saving his life and the life of their young daughter. He drove on to the nearest Palestinian hospital in Nablus.

Four other minors previously arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) were released months ago without explanation.

The Shin Bet was criticized for holding the minors for an extended period without permitting them to see a lawyer.

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