Suspect in killing of Palestinian to stay in custody as house arrest request denied

Judge agrees lower court ruling keeping Yehiel Indore in custody is reasonable, but adds self-defense claim legitimate; police say evidence contradicts defense’s argument

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)

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday rejected a request by defense lawyers for Yehiel Indore, the central suspect in the fatal shooting of a Palestinian earlier this month, to be sent to house arrest.

Indore is suspected of fatally shooting 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Matan in a clash on August 4 in the Palestinian village of Burqa. Indore was seriously injured in the clash, allegedly from a rock thrown by a Palestinian that hit his face, and has spent most of his time in custody in a hospital, until his transfer on Sunday to a Prisons Service medical facility.

Indore was ordered by a lower court on Friday to remain in custody until at least Tuesday, after law enforcement requested a 10-day extension, claiming they have significant evidence supporting their case.

In his decision on Monday, Judge Alexander Mor said that, while Indore’s claim of self-defense is legitimate, the lower court’s decision was reasonable and does not justify intervention.

During the hearing, a police representative argued that Indore’s version of events is inconsistent with other descriptions and with the topography of the area, which “refutes the self-defense argument.”

The representative said Indore’s answers during questioning have displayed “selective memory,” with the suspect going into detail when describing the Palestinians and their actions, yet avoiding details when asked about the Jews who were involved.

Qusai Jamal Matan (Courtesy)

Indore’s attorney Nati Rom, of the Honenu legal aid group, said Indore has “cognitive problems” and “his emotional and cognitive state is deteriorating now that he’s no longer hospitalized.”

Another hearing on Indore’s potential remand is expected Tuesday.

The high-profile case has garnered international attention, as 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 government politicians.

At the previous remand hearing, police revealed they no longer suspect a racial motive for Indore’s 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.

Police arrested at least two demonstrators at a protest against Indore’s detainment Sunday.

According to Ynet, some 200 people protested at the event organized by a number of right-wing and far-right organizations, such as Im Tirzu and Honenu.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right leader of Otzma Yehudit, wrote a letter to the Israel Prison Service (IPS) on Sunday asking for a response to his query on Indore’s conditions and if the suspect’s rights were being upheld.

Ben Gvir cited “many inquiries that came to my office today,” and said that Indore was transferred to the custody of the Israel Prison Service, “at the direction of the Shin Bet.”

File: Elisha Yered (right), suspected of involvement in the killing of 19-year-old Palestinian Qusai Jamal Matan in the West Bank village of Burqa, pictured on his release to house arrest outside Jerusalem District Court, on August 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Another Israeli suspect, Elisha Yered, was arrested on suspicion of being involved and obstructing the police investigation but was released to house arrest Wednesday. Law enforcement appealed on Thursday to have Yered rearrested, but the motion was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Under the terms of his release, Yered — a former spokesman for Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Har Son-Melech — is being held under house arrest at 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.

A West Bank military court on Thursday ordered the release of four Palestinians arrested over the incident, with the judge saying there was “no reasonable suspicion” against them. A fifth suspect was released earlier in the week.

Ben Gvir denied Hadash-Ta’al party MK Ahmad Tibi permission to visit the Palestinians arrested in connection with the case, prompting the latter to accuse the government of blatant discrimination.

Former police officials have warned that 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.”

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