Israeli minor who is suspected of killing Palestinian woman kept in custody

Judges postpone hearing on lawyers’ appeal against continued incarceration after Shin Bet fails to bring suspect to court

Suspects detained over their suspected involvement in the killing of a Palestinian woman are seen outside the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court after a judge releases them to house arrest, January 10, 2019. (Flash90)
Suspects detained over their suspected involvement in the killing of a Palestinian woman are seen outside the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court after a judge releases them to house arrest, January 10, 2019. (Flash90)

The prime suspect in the killing of a Palestinian woman will remain in custody after the High Court of Justice on Friday postponed a hearing on his attorneys’ request to have him released to house arrest.

The decision came after the Shin Bet security service, which is investigating the deadly stoning of Aisha Rabi, declined to bring the suspect, a Jewish Israeli minor, to court for Friday’s hearing.

Attorney Adi Kedar of the right-wing Honenu legal aid group, which is representing the unnamed minor, blasted the Shin Bet and the court, telling reporters that the justices were “complicit in violating the law and minors’ rights.”

Honenu and the suspect’s parents, as well as the parents of four other minors suspected of complicity in the October attack, accuse the security service of torture.

All of the suspects are students at the Pri Haaretz high school yeshiva in the settlement of Rehelim, in the northern West Bank.

“The Shin Bet is killing my son from day to day,” the main suspect’s father said. “They’re making up their own laws. They think they’re above the law… We appeal to the prime minister and other ministers — this is no less than a coup. The Shin Bet is trampling the law.”

Aisha and Yakoub Rabi and their daughters (Courtesy)

The appeal came a day after a magistrate extended the youth’s remand until Thursday, while the four other suspects in the case were released to house arrest at the request of police and Shin Bet.

The teens are suspected of “terror offenses, including murder,” the agency said earlier this week, after months in which a gag order had prevented publication of information on the case.

A judge at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court said Thursday that the Jewish minor who is the key suspect in the stoning attack that killed a Palestinian woman was facing suspicions of “a very high level.”

Channel 10 news reported on Wednesday night that the remanded teen is 16 years old and is suspected of hurling the rock that killed Rabi, a mother of eight, in October.

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.

Rabi was fatally struck on the head by a rock while driving in a car with her husband and daughter in the northern West Bank.

The Pri Haaretz Yeshiva in the Rehelim settlement on January 8, 2019. (Ofer Meir/Flash90)

“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, which has led the investigation, has come under fire from far-right activists and some lawmakers over the minors’ extended detention, and has fiercely denied the 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 Shin Bet and police’s nationalistic crimes unit did not possess serious evidence against them.

“My client endured 12 days of severe interrogations that caused him trauma, and now the question must be asked: Who will compensate him for such trauma?” said Itamar Ben Gvir, a lawyer representing one of the suspects sent to house arrest.

Itamar Ben Gvir seen outside a court hearing in Rishon Lezion, on the matter of the Jewish youth suspects in a major security probe whose details are under gag order on December 31, 2018. (Flash90)

On Sunday, the Shin Bet partially lifted a gag order on the case and announced that it had arrested the five, students from the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the Rehelim settlement, on suspicion on involvement in the killing of Rabi, a 47-year-old Palestinian mother of eight.

Rabi’s husband, who was driving the targeted vehicle, said he heard a small group of Hebrew speakers at the scene shortly after the rock was thrown.

Police on Wednesday raided the Pri Haaretz yeshiva and summoned nearly 80 students for questioning at the Ariel Police Station, the Honenu group reported. The right-wing legal aid group said authorities have already questioned some 30 students at the yeshiva.

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