A man arrested for allegedly breaking into a family home in central Israel and raping a woman in front of her children denied the charges during an appearance in court on Sunday, but was remanded to a further nine days in custody.
“It’s not me,” the suspect was reported to tell the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court. His attorney said that the man denies any connection to the crime, and has no criminal history. The court ruled that the suspect’s name could be released, but agreed to wait at least a day after his lawyer appealed the decision.
The 22-year-old man was arrested on Saturday for the shocking crime, which occurred Thursday night in Gedera, south of Tel Aviv.
The judge stated in court that there is “a high likelihood that the suspect committed the crimes attributed to him.” The judge also told the court that the “testimony from the complainant paints a very difficult picture of her traumatic experience.”
The victim, a woman in her 30s, said a man broke into her home overnight, overpowered her with a knife and raped her in front of her kids.
“My house was broken into. I was raped in front of my children. Be careful and lock your doors,” the woman wrote in her neighborhood’s WhatsApp group on Friday morning, hours after the alleged rape took place.
Security footage was said to show the suspect approach the building, then leave the area an hour later.
A police official told the court on Sunday that the suspect “entered the home and brutally attacked and raped the victim in front of her children as they cried.” The police representative added that the suspect tied up the woman’s arms and legs and covered her eyes, telling her “if you keep shouting, I’ll murder [your children].”
Police said that they identified the suspect based on eyewitness testimony and security camera footage. A lawyer for the suspect said, however, that the man arrested has denied any connection to the rape, and that “someone took a sweatshirt and shoes from him.”
The brutal rape of the young mother inside her home shocked the town of Gedera and the rest of the nation, triggering protests in the southern town over feelings of unsafety.
Gedera Mayor Yoel Gamliel hailed the arrest on Saturday, a day after accusing police of “incompetence” and of failing to protect his constituents amid a series of unsolved break-ins. In a statement, Gamliel said he hoped the “despicable criminal” would be punished severely.