IDF Chief's Guard Held for Attempted Rape at TA Port

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A member of the unit charged with protecting Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was detained Friday on suspicion of attempted rape.

The bodyguard, a 30-year-old resident of the Sharon region who holds the rank of captain, is suspected of assaulting a young woman at the Tel Aviv Port as she was walking to her car, dragging her to the Yarkon River bank and trying to rape her.

The woman resisted and the suspect allegedly fled to nearby bushes, where he was found by police and passersby.

Late Friday, Tel Aviv Northern District police received a report of a woman lying partially naked and bruised along the bank of the Yarkon, close to the port area parking lot.

When patrol and special forces police officers arrived, the woman told them she had been walking to her car from a night spot when she was assaulted by a man she did not recognize. She said he dragged her to the riverbank, beat her and partially undressed her, and then tried to rape her. The woman said she shouted for help and struck back at the assailant, who eventually fled.

Patrol officers and bystanders began scouring the area for the suspect, and several minutes later he was found hiding in bushes nearby. Police said the man was intoxicated and bruised.

The suspect was brought to Tel Aviv Northern District police station, where he denied any connection to the alleged acts.

The interrogation revealed that the suspect was scheduled to be married this Wednesday, and had been celebrating his bachelor party at the Pussycat strip club adjacent to the Port.

Yesterday a Tel Aviv court extended the suspect's remand by four days, and police lawyers said they intended to charge him with attempted rape. "We found him with his pants half-off, just as we found the complainant," they said. The suspect's attorney, Benyamin Nahari, said, "Even if this awful act happened, the suspect has no connection to it and denies any link."

Chief Superintendent Sigal Bar-Zvi, commander of the Tel Aviv Northern District station, said, "The young woman's resourcefulness saved her from certain rape, and perhaps more than that. The suspect assaulted her brutally, and fled only due to her resistance."

Representatives of the Pussycat club said yesterday they were not familiar with the suspect, nor did they recall any unusual behavior at the club, which the night of the alleged incident hosted some 10 bachelor parties. Haaretz has learned that the suspect joined the bodyguard unit a month and a half ago after being removed from the Shin Bet security service.