Court orders firebomb suspects held 5 more days

Father of one suspect in Jerusalem beating of Ras al-Amud teen says he's confident his son isn't guilty.

Two suspects in firebomb attack in J'lem court 370 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)
Two suspects in firebomb attack in J'lem court 370
(photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90)
The juvenile section of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday ordered three youths remanded to custody for an additional five days in the firebombing of a Palestinian taxi that wounded six people.
The suspects are boys aged 12-13 and are from the Bat Ayin settlement in Gush Etzion, south of the capital.
The attack took place nearly two weeks ago in the general vicinity.
The prosecution had sought to remand the suspects for an extended period during the investigation, while the defense tried to get the suspects released outright or at most have them placed under house arrest.
In the previous hearing on Sunday night the court said that in principle it was ready to release the three to house arrest but it would give police until Monday’s hearing to produce new and convincing evidence that would require keeping them in custody.
The hearing was a legal version of jujitsu in which the police investigator tried to make his case for having produced new, unambiguous forensic evidence connecting the suspects to the crime while not revealing what the evidence was.
While questioning the investigator the defense attorney tried several ways, all ultimately unsuccessful, of coaxing him into revealing the evidence.
In one exchange the attorney tried to make it seem the investigator wanted to keep the suspects in custody while all he was doing was verifying fingerprints that already had taken from them.
Later on Monday, Channel 10 reported that the undisclosed evidence was fingerprints on a knife, glove and unthrown Molotov cocktail found at the scene. The report could not be confirmed.
The defense attorney tried to imply that the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) had been involved in the case in questionable ways, particularly with regard to the suspects’ ages. The investigator did not bite and kept a tight lip regarding to what extent the Shin Bet had been involved.
All aspects of the Shin Bet’s involvement and the exact details of the forensic evidence were revealed only to the court, as is normally done while an investigation is ongoing.
The police also presented the court with evidence that some of the suspects appeared to be trying to obstruct the investigation.
Ultimately, Judge Yaron Minkovitz said that with a heavy heart in light of the suspects’ young ages, he would extend the order remanding them to police custody for five additional days due to the new evidence and evidence that they had tried to obstruct the investigation.
Police Inspector General Yohanan Danino on Monday that police expected further possible arrests. He also vowed that police do not take such “racist” actions lightly.
“I said immediately after the incident and I’ll say it again: This is a serious incident that threatens the delicate fabric of life in these areas [the West Bank]. We won’t allow this to pass quietly.... I can say with some caution that we are expecting further arrests.”
Danino’s comments came during a visit to a public school in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Israeli Arab city. He also spoke of the brutal mob assault on an Arab teen in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, which took place the same night as the firebombing.
“The events we have seen recently are expressions of racism,” he said. “These are events that we want to fight against and not encounter anywhere. All of us need to fight [against them] in a determined fashion, not only in words but also in actions.”
Speaking to Channel 2, the father of one of the defendants in the Jerusalem beating case claimed that the youths had threatened and warned the victim, but didn’t attack him.
“Unequivocally, I can say my son was not involved,” the father said. When asked how he was sure, he answered, “Because I know my son.”
The man added that he would have noticed signs of extremism in the boy, saying, “He wasn’t raised on hatred of Arabs.”
He noted that conflict with Arabs was rife for those growing up in Judea and Samaria.
Citing a recent attack on settlers, he said of his son, “He grew up in this reality."