The Lod District Court on Sunday rejected an appeal to release the prime suspect in the deadly stoning of a Palestinian woman.
The Israeli teen will remain in custody at least until Tuesday, when his next remand hearing is slated to take place.
A hearing on the appeal had initially been set for Friday afternoon, but was delayed after authorities did not bring the suspect to the courthouse.
The teen was arrested on December 30 along with two other students from the Pri Haaretz yeshiva high school in the northern West Bank. A week later, two more boys from the same boarding school were arrested. Last Sunday, the Shin Bet security service, which is running the investigation along with the police’s nationalistic crime unit, partially lifted the gag and announced that the five boys are suspected of involvement in the murder of Aisha Rabi.
The 47-year-old Palestinian mother of eight was fatally struck on the head by a rock while driving in a car with her husband and daughter in the northern West Bank on October 12. The teens are suspected of “terror offenses, including murder,” the Shin Bet said.
An attorney for the main suspect called his continued detention “a mistake” and said his legal team was considering appealing the district court’s decision to the High Court.
“We believe this was a mistake. The facts are clear. There is an attempt here to create a dangerous precedent at the expense of this minor, of this appellant, using this serious and heavily scrutinized case,” the teen’s attorneys said in a statement.
“Legally, there is no justification for this detention. This person has sat for a week [in custody] without being questioned. There’s no part of the investigation that he can obstruct, because the state is looking far afield for any shred of evidence or expert’s signature on some document, and they’re not succeeding. He doesn’t have to wait in jail because of that.”
Dozens of far-right activists protested outside the courthouse as Sunday’s hearing took place, clashing with police. One 16-year-old activist was arrested, the Honenu legal aid group reported.
On Thursday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court released four of the suspects to house arrest and extended the detention of the remaining teen until Tuesday.
The Israel Police said in a statement that despite the strict gag order on details of the case and those suspected of involvement, it had asked presiding Judge Guy Avnon to permit publication of some of his remarks on extending the remand of the prime suspect.
“In the case of this suspect, the severity of the suspicions is very high,” Avnon said. “The offenses attributed to the suspect establish clear grounds for detention.”
He said releasing the suspect to alternative detention was out of the question, as he could present a danger to others or attempt to obstruct the investigation.
The Shin Bet has come under fire from far-right activists and some lawmakers over the minors’ extended detention, and has vigorously denied accusations of torture.
Avnon asserted that, based on the information he had seen, the Shin Bet was handling the investigation in a responsible manner.
“It is clear that the investigation unit, together with the Shin Bet, is carrying out a thorough, serious, strenuous investigation while attempting to reach the truth,” he said. “At this time, I have found that the investigating unit made proper use of the period of time in which the suspect was under arrest.”
The suspects’ lawyers claimed that the court’s decision to conditionally release four of the teens proved that the investigators did not possess substantial evidence against them.