Palestinian Suspect Arrested in Israeli Teen’s Rape

Police claims suspect was arrested Tuesday after fleeing in May, but suspect had in fact reported to several police stations and told to go home

Illustration: A man under arrest.
Olivier Fitoussi

Police on Tuesday arrested a Palestinian man from the West Bank suspected of raping a 13-year-old girl in Ashdod, stating that the suspect fled to the West Bank after the incident, which took place in May, and that he was located and arrested on Tuesday.

However, according to information obtained by Haaretz, the suspect, a man in his 30s, reported of his own accord to the police stations last week, and was not initially arrested.

In a statement, the police said the man, a maintenance worker in an Ashdod boarding school, is suspected of taking one of the students to his room and raping her. Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court extended his detention on Wednesday for six days.

Although the police claimed he fled and was located for arrest, the suspect went to the police station on July 3, and asked if he was wanted for investigation, as his entry permit to Israel had been revoked and he had heard rumors that the police wanted to question him. His attorney, Shani Farjun, said officers told him he does not need to be questioned, and he then left the site.

Farjun added that the suspect visited five other Israeli police stations in the West Bank and was told at all of them that he was not being sought for questioning.

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“From the moment the suspect learned he was to be questioned in connection with a sex crime, he showed up immediately at the police stations in Hebron and Gush Etzion, where he was explicitly and unequivocally told he was not wanted for questioning … The suspect received documentation from the Israeli police confirming this,” the attorney said. “His conduct and desire to be questioned are the best testimony to his innocence, for he did not try to escape questioning and did all he could to clear his name,” she added.