State prosecutors on Wednesday filed an appeal against a court decision to release an Israeli teenager charged with killing a Palestinian woman to house arrest, pending his trial.
The 16-year-old, who as a minor can not be named, is accused of having caused the death of a Palestinian mother, Aisha Rabi, by hurling a heavy rock at the windscreen of her car on October 12 near the northern West Bank’s Tapuah Junction. His DNA was found on the rock.
The teen, a student at a yeshiva in the nearby Jewish settlement of Rehalim, has been charged with homicide “in the context of a terrorist act” that was motivated by his hatred of Arabs.
On Tuesday, the defense submitted a legal opinion to the Lod District Court which cast doubt on the state’s version of the events that led to Rabi’s death.
Dr. Hen Kugel, the chief pathologist of the National Center of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir suggested that the rock with the teen’s DNA may not have been what killed Rabi. His conclusions were not supported by the majority of his colleagues, with only two of the other seven pathologists who examined Rabi’s death reaching his same conclusion.
The suspect was approved for house arrest last week, but his release scheduled for Tuesday was delayed by the court by to give prosecutors an opportunity to appeal the decision.
In a statement announcing the appeal, the State Prosecutors Office referred to the defense’s legal opinion as “marginal” and argued that the court’s decision to release the suspect to house arrest was a “mistake” given the “extreme danger” that he posed.
Earlier this year, the suspect, a student at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim, was charged with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle. Each of the charges is connected to the killing of Rabi, a mother of eight, and was qualified as having been carried out “in the context of a terrorist act.”
If convicted, the teen could face considerable jail time; a manslaughter terrorism conviction alone carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars. Due to apparent limits imposed on prosecutors by the available evidence, the suspect avoided murder charges, which would have put him at risk of a life sentence.
According to the charge sheet, the suspect departed from the Pri Haaretz yeshiva accompanied by several other students late on the evening of October 12, a Friday.
The group arrived at a hilltop between the Rehelim Junction and the Tapuah Junction, overlooking Route 60 — the West Bank’s main north-south artery. The suspect then hurled a large rock weighing roughly two kilograms (4.4 pounds) at a Palestinian vehicle, “out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere,” the indictment said.