New court rulings could have ramifications in Israel..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The alleged rape of a seven-year-old Israeli girl by a Palestinian man earlier this year has justifiably shocked the nation but has also sadly turned into a political football.
The dry details of the case are as follows: The suspect, Mohammed Qatusa from the West Bank village of Deir Qaddis near Modi’in Illit, was employed as a school janitor in a settlement. He was charged on Sunday for the alleged rape, assault and abduction of the child.
Police claim that the man met the child during his work as a janitor, offered her candy to get her to trust him and eventually led her forcibly to a house near the school to assault her. The suspect denied any connection to the crime, and police have been unable to track down two other men who were allegedly present at the time of the attack.
Politicians were quick to jump on the political opportunism the case presented. “This is not pedophilia, but plain terrorism,” Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said on social media, arguing in favor of sentencing terrorists in such cases to death.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the crime “moves all of our hearts,” and called on the courts to punish the perpetrator to the full extent of the law.
National Union co-chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich called for the death penalty against the rapist.
“There is no limit to the evil and cruelty,” Smotrich said. “If only we could impose the death penalty on this vile person. Nothing less. A monster like this doesn’t deserve to breathe air in our world.”
Since last Sunday, though, a number of questions have arisen from the case. Officials involved in the investigation have been critical, claiming among other things that Qatusa was allowed to leave the country for a trip to Jordan even though he was already a suspect in the case. How police allowed a suspect in a brutal rape to leave the country is difficult to understand.
Then came a story in Haaretz that said doctors at the Maccabi HMO did not inform police of the complaint after examining the girl. Only six days later did her parents file an official police complaint. According to the report, the Maccabi doctor who examined the girl didn’t find clear-cut evidence of sexual assault.
According to another report, police did not send the child’s clothes – found near the apartment where she was allegedly held – for forensic tests. Police are now saying that if new evidence is not uncovered, the charges against Qatusa might be dropped.
Unfortunately, it seems there are too many problems with this case to be ignored. The police need to do their job and ensure that not only do they discover the truth but also have the correct perpetrator in custody. Qatusa might turn out to be the rapist, but on the chance that he is not, the police need to improve their investigative work.
This is important because, sadly, the seven-yearold girl who was assaulted will not be the last. Police need to have clear guidelines in place for what happens when someone comes into a station and says that they have been sexually assaulted.
When investigations are riddled with problems and mistakes, the public loses its trust in the police and when the police are not deemed reliable or trustworthy, anarchy could potentially erupt within a society.
Already the police suffer from a lack of public trust. Last year, a poll showed that only 21% of Israelis have a high degree of trust in the police, while 30% have a low level of trust.
This is the result of a number of factors but mostly from the lack of satisfaction the public has with the service it receives from the police.
For this to change, the police need to not only improve the service they provide the public, but also the quality of their investigations. Making sure they collect the right forensic evidence and have the right suspect in custody should be obvious.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>