Police make new arrests in 'terrorist rape' case

Bir al-Maksur leader: Arrest of 9 of village's residents particularly upsetting, since over 90% of town's men loyally enlisted in IDF.

handcuffs 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
handcuffs 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A day after police claimed victory over a serial rape "terrorist gang" that plagued the Galilee, the Northern District police arrested three more suspects on Wednesday. The latest arrests brought the total number of detainees to 9, all hailing from Bir al-Maksur, northwest of Nazareth. Police said four of the six Beduin suspects arrested on Tuesday have confessed and have reenacted the kidnappings and rapes, saying they assaulted Jewish women to avenge IDF actions in the West Bank. A 10th suspect, a young woman from the Beduin village, was detained and released on restricted terms on Tuesday. Investigators believe the suspects were involved in four rapes between April 2005 and November 2006. A day after the first arrests shocked the 7,000 residents of Bir al-Maksur, local council head Hassan Gadir held an emergency meeting with representatives of all of the Beduin local authorities in the North. Gadir told The Jerusalem Post that the events were particularly upsetting in light of the fact that "more than 90 percent" of the men in the village voluntarily enlisted in the IDF. Many, he said, served in an elite tracker unit on the Gaza border. "We are part of the nation," he said. The leaders decided they would have a meeting with all the heads of Arab local councils, and call on them to distribute leaflets in the schools condemning rape as against Islamic principles. They also plan to hold meetings with school counselors. "It is important the youth know that we don't support this," said Hussein Gadir, the council head's assistant. "We want to stay part of Israeli society." According to police, the attacks were conducted against young Jewish women who were waiting at bus stops or designated hitchhiking points in the western Galilee and the Haifa area. In all each cases, the attackers forced their victim into a car and drove to an isolated spot, where they raped her. On Tuesday, police said that by the third rape, in January 2006, they were aware that they were dealing with serial offenders. Following that statement, Northern District police have been criticized for failing to warn the public. Detectives said they feared that had they done so, it would have made catching the culprits more difficult. Hours after their arrest, the Nazareth Magistrate's Court extended the remands of two of the new suspects by 10 days. The third suspect, who was arrested later in the day, was expected to be brought before a judge on Thursday for a remand extension.