Police arrest suspect in Tel Aviv armed rape

Palestinian arrested on street near parking lot where brutal rape occurred; 4 suspected accomplices also under arrest.

Israel Police officer 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel Police officer 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A 21-year-old Palestinian man was arrested on Monday evening on suspicion of raping a 17-year-old girl at knife-point and forcing her boyfriend to watch earlier this week in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Police, who were under massive public pressure to solve the case, arrested the suspect on a street near the scene of the crime, in the vicinity of the Gan Ha’ir parking lot of the municipality. He is a resident of the West Bank, from a village near Nablus, and has a few minor criminal offenses on his record which do not include sexual assaults.
Five additional suspects were also arrested and due to be questioned throughout Monday night to determine the level of their alleged involvement.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether the attack was planned or random, a senior police source said it was too soon to tell, but that it was possible the attack was part of an ambush.
“I can say with pride that the main suspect is in custody,” the source said. “We hope to have a clearer picture by Tuesday morning.”
The source added that the suspect was caught using “classic police” investigation techniques, though he did not elaborate. “He knows north Tel Aviv very well. He knows the streets. He’s been here for a while.”
“He carried out irregular jobs periodically,” police added.
Police are also checking to see whether the suspect carried out additional offenses.
The arrest was made by a special team of detectives investigating the incident from the Yarkon police subdistrict, which is headed Asst.- Cmdr. Yoram Ohayon.
The girl’s 18-year-old boyfriend, who was also held at knife-point during the ordeal, said he was forced to watch their attacker rape his girlfriend for three hours.
Police said the suspect also forced the couple to carry out sexual acts on one another.
The youth, who gave an interview to Yediot Aharonot, said he chose not to attack the rapist for fear of “what he would do to [his girlfriend].”
Describing the ordeal in detail, he said the attacker punched him every time he asked for him to stop.
At one point, the youth said, he took off his belt with the aim of attacking the rapist, but changed his mind due to fear for his girlfriend.
After committing the rape, the suspect stole both of their phone, and answered a call from the girl’s father, before throwing the devices in the garbage, police said.
Detectives have focused the search on an Arab suspect based on the eyewitness testimonies of the couple, who described their attacker as having a Middle Eastern appearance and speaking with an Arabic accent, police sources said Sunday.
Police have recovered DNA evidence and have sent it to a lab for processing, while also sifting through closed-circuit video footage from the area.