Court releases hikers suspected of killing Palestinian teen

Police source tells 'Post' that investigation is now focused on suspicion of manslaughter, rather than original suspicion of murder.

settler protest 311 (photo credit: Women in Green)
settler protest 311
(photo credit: Women in Green)
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday released three suspects arrested last week on suspicion of shooting dead a Palestinian youth near Beit Umar in the West Bank.
A fourth suspect was released to five days’ house arrest on Tuesday.
A source from the Judea and Samaria Police told The Jerusalem Post that the investigation is now focused on the suspicion of manslaughter, rather than the original suspicion of murder.
“At this stage, we have no main suspect in the shooting,” the source said.
“The suspects claimed they fired in self defense after being targeted by rock throwers. They also claim they heard gunshots. They claimed they fired in the air,” the source said.
The incident occurred last Friday during an organized hike that passed by Beit Umar.
Police have expressed doubt over the suspects’ account, but the investigation has been hampered because the Palestinian youth, named as Yousef Ikhlay, had been buried by his relatives. Palestinian authorities did not conduct an autopsy, so police have not been able to examine the bullet and match it with a specific firearm.
Three guns were confiscated from the suspects last week.
“We have no forensic evidence from the body, and we’ve not been able to recover forensic findings from the scene,” the police source said.
A Judea and Samaria Police forensic team scoured the valley where the shooting took place twice in recent days.
Meanwhile, outside the court at Jerusalem’s Russian Compound area, clashes occurred between police and right-wing activists demanding the hikers’ release. Six people were arrested for disturbing the peace, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Around 9:30 a.m. some 50 activists had gathered outside the court. They held up signs that said, “We have a right to self-defense,” and “We have a right to hike in the land of Israel.”
One of the organizers, activist Nadia Matar, said that all was peaceful until the end, when the police came and insisted that the gathering had to disperse.
“We were at the end, we were going to go,” she said.
Instead, she said, the police fell on a number of the activists, including her.
In a video of the incident, filmed by Arutz 7, police can be seen pulling Matar out of the crowd as she films their interaction with the demonstrators.
They release her briefly, but then crowd around her and pull her away from the scene by her arms and legs.
“They pulled me to the ground and grabbed my camera, it was trampled by them,” said Matar. “They dragged me away, I can’t tell you why.”
At one point, she said, her shirt was pushed up, exposing parts of her body. Police handcuffed her and interrogated her before they released her, Matar said.
Palestinians plan to demonstrate in Beit Umar on Saturday to protest the teen’s death. They claim that it was settlers who instigated the incident.