Two teenagers were ordered held in custody Tuesday over suspicions they extorted a woman for money, imprisoned her and her son against their will, and that one of the suspects raped her.
The pair, both 16, were arrested a few days ago in Katzrin on the Golan Heights after the woman, 40, complained to police. All three are residents of the town.
The alleged rape took place a week and a half ago. The woman claimed the two suspects locked her and 15-year-old son in the bomb shelter of an an apartment building, and said they wouldn’t let her go unless she paid them money. During that encounter, she claims, one of the teens threatened her with a knife and forced her to have sex with him.
She further said that after she filed a police complaint, her assailants confronted her and stabbed her in the leg to intimidate her, according to Hebrew media reports.
The Kiryat Shmona Magistrate’s Court extended the suspects’ remand until next Wednesday. It was the third extension since they were arrested.
Police said they are suspected of rape, false imprisonment, dealing in drugs, and other violent offenses.
An unsourced Channel 12 report said the woman told investigators that the two teenagers claimed she owed them money.
“They imprisoned me and my son in the [bomb] shelter at knifepoint,” the woman told investigators. “There were moments when I feared they would kill me; they were very agitated. One of them who held a knife forced me to have sex with him, and warned me that if I resisted or complained to the police, they’d kill me. It was a nightmare.”
Haaretz reported that investigators are probing whether the suspects forced the woman to sell drugs on their behalf, and then began to extort her when the amount she gave them didn’t tally with their expectations.
The defendants claim there is a monetary dispute between them and the woman, a single mother, Walla reported. The say they painted the woman’s home but she did not pay them for the job, but investigators doubt the veracity of their story.
Local residents told Walla that youths had taken over the bomb shelter and used it for noisy, drug-fueled gatherings until residents of the building locked the door. It was not clear how the suspects were able to gain access to the shelter. According to the report, one of the suspects moved into the building with his family in the past year.
Yaron Shomron, an attorney representing one of the suspects, said his client was cooperating with police and denies that he attacked the woman.
“We expect police to corroborate his version and that he will be released soon,” Shomron said.
Fathi Fukra, representing the other suspect, said the teen had had a hard life and was under the care of welfare services. Fukra noted that his client is not suspected of rape.
Kan reported that one of the suspects was supposed to be under house arrest due to previous offenses.
As rumors of the incident spread through Katzrin in recent days, the head of the local regional council, Dmitry Efrazev, said in a statement that law enforcement officials “are investigating a sensitive criminal case that happened in the community.”
He warned his constituents not to post news of the incident online, saying that doing so “borders on gross irresponsibility.”