Settler suspected in fatal shooting of Palestinian released to house arrest

Court finds evidence against Elisha Yered, who did not pull trigger, not enough to justify custody; shooter, hospitalized since clash with Palestinians, still in remand

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 District Court in Jerusalem, August 8, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
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 District Court in Jerusalem, August 8, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

One of two Israeli suspects held over the fatal shooting of a Palestinian was released to house arrest on Tuesday after a court found police do not have enough evidence to keep him in custody.

However, the release of Elisha Yered, a former spokesman for the far-right Otzma Yehudit party’s MK Limor Son Har-Melech, was delayed until 8 p.m. at the request of the Israel Police, which intends to file a petition against the Jerusalem District Court decision. Har-Melech attended court for the hearing.

If released, Yered will be in house arrest in 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.

The other suspect, Yehiel Indore, is to remain in custody, though he has a remand hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Indore is believed to be the person who shot dead 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Matan last Friday during a clash between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the northern West Bank, just outside the town of Burqa. Yered is suspected of involvement in the shooting and obstructing the investigation into the incident by taking the pistol home with him. Indore remains 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 court ruled that family members be allowed to visit him at the hospital, which they were previously barred from doing due to his arrest.

The Honenu legal aid group petitioned the court to release both Indore and Yered. Attorneys argued that Indore claims he fired in self-defense while Yered is not suspected of shooting at Matan.

Qusai Jamal Matan. (Courtesy)

During the court session, presiding Judge Tamar Bar-Asher chastised police for not coming properly prepared to the hearing and said of Yered, “I don’t understand why he needs to remain in custody,” according to Hebrew media reports.

“The evidence that establishes a suspicion of involvement in the events is not at the minimum level necessary to establish a reasonable suspicion, as far as the crimes of manslaughter are concerned,” Bar-Asher said. “I am not convinced that there is anything in the evidence collected to establish a reasonable suspicion of his involvement in the serious crimes of which he is suspected.”

Likewise, she said, the evidence of obstructing the investigation “is of very low gravity, such that it is doubtful that it justifies the continuation of the arrest.”

Attorney Avichai Hajbi, who helped file the petition on behalf of Yered and Indore, said in a statement, “From the outset, we believed that in this case there is an underlying misconception by the investigating unit.”

Son-Har Melech told media outside the hearing that “the truth is slowly coming out.”

“There is nothing here,” she said of the case against the two suspects. “In any other sane country they would have received full respect and appreciation, they prevented a lynching, prevented the killing of Jews.”

MK Limor Son Har Melech arrives for a court hearing of Elisha Yered, suspected of being involved in the death of 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Maatan in the West Bank village of Burqa, at the District Court in Jerusalem, August 8, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who leads the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, has said Indore should be “given a medal” for shooting Matan.

The Biden administration branded the shooting a “terror attack” while using the same terminology to describe the killing of a Tel Aviv municipal patrolman a Palestinian terrorist last Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter downplayed the US use of the term “terror” on Tuesday.

“I don’t advise treating the US definition as a precise professional definition. At the end of the day, they are not drawing on intelligence, but on media reports,” he told Army Radio.

“Everything gets poured into media reports, things that are correct, things that are wrong, tendentious, and other things. At the end of the day, what is important as far as we are concerned is what happened there,” he said.

Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, said he would wait until the completion of the investigation into the incident before forming an opinion on the matter, but stressed that if the killing of the Palestinian is found to have been an act of terror then it will be dealt with as such.

Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter visits the Gaza border, southern Israel, May 26, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

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, the IDF said, adding that Palestinians also launched fireworks.

“During the confrontation, Israeli civilians shot 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.

The Israeli shepherd involved was questioned on suspicion of murder and released on Monday, Ynet reported. 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.

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