Court releases main suspect in killing of Palestinian in Burqa to house arrest

Judge rejects law enforcement appeal of decision to release Yehiel Indore; police arrest 2 Palestinians suspected of taking part in violent clash earlier this month

Yehiel Indore, who is suspected of shooting and killing 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Matan in the West Bank village of Burqa, arrives for a Jerusalem District Court hearing on August 14, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Yehiel Indore, who is suspected of shooting and killing 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Matan in the West Bank village of Burqa, arrives for a Jerusalem District Court hearing on August 14, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

A court on Tuesday ordered an Israeli suspected of killing a Palestinian during a recent clash in the West Bank be released to house arrest, rejecting law enforcement’s request to keep him in custody.

Police filed an appeal against Yehiel Indore’s release, which the Jerusalem District Court rejected. Indore was then released to house arrest later Tuesday under restrictive conditions.

A police representative said during the remand hearing that Indore, who is suspected of fatally shooting 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Matan during a clash in the Palestinian village of Burqa on August 4, remained silent during interrogation on Monday and has refused to “go out for [crime scene] reconstruction in the field after consulting with his lawyer,” citing his medical condition, Ynet reported.

Indore was seriously injured in the incident, allegedly from a rock thrown by a Palestinian that hit his face, and spent most of his time in custody in a hospital before being transferred on Sunday to a Prison Service medical facility.

The police representative, arguing for a remand extension on Tuesday, said the Burqa incident “did not start with the wounding of Indore and the killing of the Palestinian. It started a few hours before and ended after.”

Lawyers representing Indore, who has claimed self-defense, hailed the Jerusalem court’s decision, arguing that “in his physical and mental state” he should not remain under arrest.

“The claim of self-defense here is clear, and if this is not self-defense, this claim can be erased from the law books,” Nati Rom of the far-right Honenu legal aid group said in a statement.

On Monday, the court had rejected a request by Indore’s lawyer to release him to house arrest, days after police revealed they no longer suspect a racial motive for his actions, but still suspect him of killing Matan with intent or indifference, participating in a riot, conspiracy to commit a crime and obstruction of justice.

Qusai Jamal Matan (Courtesy)

Earlier Tuesday, police arrested two Palestinians from Burqa on suspicion of assault and throwing stones during the violent altercation.

The police arrested the pair, one of whom is a minor, after reportedly obtaining new footage of the incident. It is unclear whether the two were responsible for severely injuring Indore. Video of the incident purportedly shows the two new suspects throwing stones at settlers during the altercation.

Mourners carry the body of 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Matan, during his funeral in the town of Burqa in the West Bank on August 5, 2023. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Police said further arrests are expected in the case. Five Palestinian suspects were arrested and released last week.

The case has garnered international media attention partially due to the fact that one of the suspects, Elisha Yered, is a former spokesman for far-right Otzma Yehudit lawmaker Limor Son Har-Melech.

Yered was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the death and obstructing the police investigation but was released to house arrest last week. Law enforcement appealed to have him rearrested and returned to custody, but the motion was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Elisha Yered, suspected of being involved in the death of 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Maatan in the West Bank village of Burqa, arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, August 5, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Former police officials have warned that National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir — a longtime radical and settlement activist with a history of incitement — is attempting to intervene in the investigation after he said Indore should be awarded a medal of honor and demanded police “expedite the investigation.”

US-led efforts to calm Israeli-Palestinian tensions have run up against what observers say are rising cases of settler-perpetrated violence against Palestinians, fanned by far-right rhetoric from coalition lawmakers.

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