Israel Police Won’t Hold Suspects in Gang Rape

Prosecutors note that the 17-year-old girl refuses to confront the suspects face to face

Rape victim (illustration).
Tomer Noiberg

Four suspects in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl from Herzliya were released from house arrest Tuesday because the girl refuses to confront them face to face.

The police are still investigating the case, but prosecutors said they saw no reason to keep the suspects under arrest because the girl refuses the confrontation. Even though the police believe her story, a face-to-face confrontation is essential if an indictment is to be filed, prosecutors said.

Though the girl has given her testimony to the police twice, her difficult emotional state has so far made a confrontation untenable for her. The police therefore said they would wait until her state of mind improved. But like the prosecution, they said that skipping the confrontation entirely was impossible.

Three of the suspects were arrested last month. The fourth was arrested about two weeks ago.

The police believe the rape occurred a few days after the girl met the main suspect, who is 22, on social media. The two decided to meet in person and she came to his apartment, only to discover that some of his friends were also there.

At that point, she said, the main suspect raped her in front of his friends, after which two of the others raped her in turn.

The police said all three have denied the rape allegation, insisting the sex was consensual, but that their testimony contained contradictions. They found the girl’s testimony credible.

The fourth suspect, a 23-year-old from Ra’anana, was arrested after hiding out for three weeks in an apartment in Jaffa. He told the police that he didn’t have sex with the girl for medical reasons, and that when his friends began having sex with her, he left the apartment and went home.

When the police asked why he hid for three weeks if he didn’t take part in the rape, he said he feared being arrested because he was present when the incident began and therefore knew about it.