After a day of legal battling, one of the settlers held on suspicion of involvement in the fatal shooting of a young Palestinian last week was released to house arrest on Wednesday evening after a delay for legal proceedings, while the other will remain in custody after the police successfully appealed late in the day against his release.
Yehiel Indore and Elisha Yered, a former spokesman for the far-right Otzma Yehudit party’s MK Limor Son Har-Melech, were arrested Saturday over the killing of 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Matan.
Indore is suspected of the shooting itself, while Yered is suspected of involvement and of obstructing the police investigation.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday morning temporarily froze Yered’s pending release from custody to house arrest until a previously scheduled Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court remand hearing could take place — and the lower court ordered his release on Wednesday afternoon.
Indore, who remains hospitalized after he was injured during clashes at the time of the killing, was also ordered released from detention at the same hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
The police later appealed both decisions, and the Jerusalem District Court ordered Indore to remain in detention until Friday while allowing Yered’s release to stand.
The far-right Honenu legal aid group, which is representing Yered and Indore, hailed the initial court decision to release them both, and called for the investigation to be closed.
“This incident is absolutely an Arab terror incident,” charged lawyer Adi Keidar in a statement, repeating the defense’s claim the suspects acted in self-defense.
Indore is suspected of shooting Matan last Friday during a clash between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the northern West Bank, just outside the town of Burqa.
The IDF has said that according to witnesses, clashes erupted adjacent to Burqa after settlers from a nearby outpost herded sheep in the area. Palestinians from the town approached the settlers to push them out from their lands, when a verbal confrontation erupted. At one point, both sides began hurling stones at each other and Palestinians also launched fireworks.
“During the confrontation, Israeli civilians fired toward the Palestinians. As a result of the confrontation, a Palestinian was killed, four others were injured, and a Palestinian vehicle was found burnt,” the IDF said in a statement Saturday.
Yered is suspected of involvement in the shooting and obstructing the investigation by taking the pistol home with him.
Yered will be under house arrest at his uncle’s home. He is prohibited from holding phone conversations and is permitted to leave the premises only to attend police questioning or court hearings.
Indore is under police guard in a Jerusalem hospital, where he is being treated for a serious head injury he sustained when a Palestinian threw a rock at him. The district court ruled Tuesday that family members be allowed to visit him at the hospital, which they were previously barred from doing due to his arrest.
An Israeli shepherd involved in the incident was questioned on suspicion of murder and released on Monday. Under the terms of his release, he was issued a restraining order barring him from going to Burqa for 30 days.
Five Palestinians were also arrested over the incident. One of them, a minor, was released on Tuesday.
Visiting rights to Indore in hospital became the focus of discrimination claims against National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Wednesday, after two coalition lawmakers were permitted to visit the suspect, while Arab MK Ahmad Tibi was denied permission to visit several Palestinians arrested in connection with the Burqa clash.
Ben Gvir, who leads the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and whose ministry oversees police, tweeted Wednesday that he “doesn’t intend to apologize” for the discrepancy over the visits.
Tibi “can’t visit rioters in the middle of an investigation,” he wrote, adding that he gives his “full backing” to the police decision.
Ben Gvir also posted the letter he sent to Tibi the day before denying him permission to visit the Palestinian suspects, in which he explained that “all requests by Knesset members and ministers to the chief of police need to be done via my office, in accordance with the procedures of the National Security Ministry.”
He said that police had examined the matter and, in the opinion of the investigating officer, “it is not possible to permit meetings with any of those arrested.”
ביקרתי כעת את הפצוע מבנימין.
הבחור עבר ניתוח ראש ועדיין מתאושש מהטראומה שחווה.
ככה נראה אדם שראה את המוות מול העיניים.
קורא למשטרה לחקור בהקדם גם את הערבים שתקפו את היהודים בשטח ולהביא לחקר האמת בהקדם האפשרי. pic.twitter.com/dHb4B2e90v
— צבי סוכות (@tzvisuccot) August 6, 2023
Ben Gvir had previously said Indore should be “given a medal” for shooting Matan.
Tibi accused the government of brazen discrimination.
“There are two kinds of members of Knesset — Jews with parliamentary immunity and rights, and Arab Knesset members without. This is further proof that we have a chief of police who is utterly subservient to a racist minister,” he told Ynet.
Tibi also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has recently given a round of interviews with US media in which he has sought to assuage concerns about the direction taken by his coalition.
“I doesn’t matter how many local stations in America Bibi interviews at,” he wrote on Twitter, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Do you really think that people around the world will keep buying the story that Israel is still a democracy for much longer?”
On Sunday police permitted MK Tally Gotliv, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, and MK Zvi Sukkot of the far-right Religious Zionism party to meet with Indore at Shaare Zedek hospital where he is being treated for his injuries. Due to his medical condition, Indore has reportedly not yet been questioned by police.
At the time police declined to go into details of the visits, Ynet reported, and according to the outlet Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai was “surprised” that permission was given to the MKs.
In the wake of the visits, Knesset legal adviser Attorney Sagit Afik asked the legal adviser to the National Security Ministry to check how and on what basis permission was given for the MKs to see Indore.
Afik noted in a letter to the adviser that in a conversation with Ben Gvir last week, she told the minister that “there can be no selective behavior that creates a distinction between MKs.”
Afik reached out at the request of Tibi, who has yet to receive a response for a separate request made over two months ago to visit a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike.