Sources involved in the investigation into the kidnap and rape of a 7-year-old girl in a West Bank settlement by a Palestinian said Monday there was no evidence the attack was politically motivated.
According to the sources, police did not involve the Shin Bet security service in the probe as no such suspicion arose. This is despite the fact that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called on Shin Bet to intervene and treat the suspect as having a nationalist motivation.
The gag order was lifted Monday on the details of the indictment against the suspect, who denied the charge, but people involved in the investigation said he was found to have lied on a polygraph test.
The defendant, a man in his 40s from the West Bank town of Deir Qadis, worked at an elementary school in the settlement. He had a permit to work there, as he had no criminal record and no record of terrorist activity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the crime, while Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman called the defendant a terrorist who deserves the death penalty. The police, however, do not believe that the crime has any connection to terrorism.
According to the indictment, submitted Monday to the Judea Military Court, the man formed a connection with one of the students at the school, talking to her and giving her candy. Sometime between February and April, he forcibly kidnapped her from the school and took her to a place where other men, whose identity remains unknown, were waiting.
At that point, he struck her and took off her clothes, as his friends laughed. According to the charges, they then held her down while he raped her. All of them ignored her tears and her pleas that the rapist stop.
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The indictment is based on the girl’s testimony. It said she identified the defendant as the rapist and described the house where the rape took place, and the police said this was sufficient evidence.
When the girl told her parents that someone at school had hurt her, they initially did not report it to anyone. Based on the girl’s testimony, it appears that days or even weeks passed before the family told the school. That was about six weeks ago.
Because of the time that has passed since the rape and the uncertainty about when it occurred, no forensic tests were done, and the police found no evidence of the girl’s kidnapping on the settlement’s security cameras. It’s not clear whether she was kidnapped during school hours or after school, but nobody reported her missing from class.
“This shocking rape of a young girl has shaken all our hearts,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter on Monday. “The courts must apply the full force of the law to everyone responsible for this terrible deed.”
Lieberman wrote, “The rape of a 7-year-old girl by a Palestinian shocked me deeply. This isn’t pedophilia but pure terrorism, a well-planned attack on a young, innocent, helpless girl. This is exactly the kind of case in which I wouldn’t hesitate; I demand that the court sentence this abominable terrorist to death.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties said, “If only it were possible to impose the death sentence on this scum. Such a monster doesn’t deserve to draw breath in our world.”
Back in 2016, Netanyahu attacked the left and the media for their failure to condemn a Palestinian’s alleged rape of an Israeli woman with disabilities. The woman later retracted her story and Netanyahu had to release another statement, which said, “I was wrong to comment on the issue before the investigation was completed, and I regret it.”