A 13-year-old girl, who was raped by a gang of Bedouins, pleaded with the police to provide more details about her assault. But the authorities including the Welfare Ministry, the State Prosecutor and even the Police ignored her pleas. Meanwhile, each of the government organizations are deflecting blame onto the other. For three months, Israel’s authorities ignored the pleas of a 13-year-old girl who wished to assist the Police and State Prosecutor in their investigation of her rape by providing additional and important details regarding her harrowing experience.

Her lawyer requested clarification from the State Prosecutor’s Office as well as from the police. But it all fell on deaf ears In a rare move, the court instructed that testimony should be taken from the victim as soon as possible. However, that did not help either. It was only when the Hakol Hayehudi news site got involved, did the police finally decided to listen to the family.

The background

Approximately four months ago, a young girl suffered from a brutal gang rape after sneaking out of a shelter run by Israel’s Welfare Ministry where she was staying. The “shelter” would frequently allow local Bedouin men to enter and would even bizarrely encourage the girls staying there to socialize with them.

The suspects, three Bedouin men from the Southern village of Rahat aged 18 and 19, were subsequently arrested and then released due to the prosecution’s claims of ‘evidence related difficulties’ in proving that a rape had indeed occurred. The prosecution even made the wild claim that the 13-year-old consented  the acts that were committed.

Since the event took place, the victim has been locked in  Sufiya Institution, a rehabilitation clinic under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Welfare. Following her admission into the institution, she asked to provide additional details about the crime that had occurred according to her recollection. It should be noted that despite being locked away in an institution, she managed to gather the courage to describe her harrowing experience to the relevant authorities. What the victim contributes are significant details of the event. Those who heard her testimony, reject the claim that it could have been consensual, especially since the victim is only 13-years-old and was described as a ‘large girl’, according to the suspect’s claims.

The run-around

Strangely, despite repeated requests from her attorney, Vered Levy, who is representing the family of the victim on behalf of the Lahavah organization as well as the pleas of the minor herself (and even the staff of the institution she is locked in), not the police, nor the prosecution bothered collecting testimony from her. Attorney Henid Nabulsi of the Central District Prosecutor’s Office told attorney. Levy that she would take care of the issue

But after more than two months, nothing happened. The judge of the Juvenile Court, Yifat Geffen, took an unusual step ordering that the investigation be completed as soon as possible due to her young age and her condition. Ironically, even the judge’s firm decision was of no assistance. Two more weeks have passed since the court’s decision was made. A letter from Attorney Levy from the State Attorney’s Office stated that the court’s decision received no response and that the condition of the victim is dire.

The victim’s mother told Hakol Hayehudi that she believed that no one knew of her daughters rape. “My daughter is 13-years-old. She was severely abused by three Bedouins. Because it was a nationalistically motivated attack and because it was so cruel, it was planned.” Emphasizing the cruelty she explains “They took her from the shelter, for rehabilitation. My daughter is in a bad state and does not receive any response. “

At this stage, all the authorities involved are trying to deflect blame claiming that the responsibility lies with the other. In the meantime, a 13-year old victim suffers without a voice.

The State Attorney’s Office claims that the Ministry of Welfare is responsible for collecting testimony from a minor on behalf of the police, and that no juvenile investigator from the ministry bothered to collect any testimony from the victim herself.

“The victim’s attorney turned to the State Attorney’s Office in April 2019 and asked that the minor be questioned again by a child investigator after she gave further details about the incident,” the State Attorney’s Office said in response. “On the same day, the State Attorney’s Office asked the police to make sure that the victim gave additional testimony to a child investigator, and that since then, the victim had turned 14, so she must testify before a youth investigator in the police. Therefore, you should turn to them (the police) for a response. ”

The Ministry of Social Affairs, who oversees the Welfare ministry, however, laid the responsibility on the police saying: “According to the law, juvenile investigators interrogate children up to the age of 14 only. From the age of 14, they are under the police’s responsibility, according to the law. They (the police) are supposed to complete the investigation at this stage, and therefore the task of completing the investigation rests with the police. “

The police said in response that they should contact the State Prosecutor’s Office.


Light at the end of the tunnel

It appears however, that progress has been made. Toward the week’s end, the police approached the family of the minor in an attempt to coordinate her arrival for questioning.

The Police interrogator however had egg on her face. That’s because she didn’t even know that the victim was staying in a shelter with a court ordered restraining order preventing her from leaving, which meant that the family could not even bring her to the police station for investigation.

Anat Gopstein of the Lahava organization, who is accompanying the victim and her family, said: “The story of the rape and the outrageous conduct of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police is a sinful addition to the case.”

Attorney Vered Levy representing the family said in response: “In an unusual step juvenile Court ordered the prosecution to complete the investigation in the criminal case pending against the three men who committed gang rape the minor, after receiving our position that the long delay and the lack of effort during the investigation harms the rehabilitation and treatment of the victim.” She said.

Levy added “Due to the drawn out delay regarding how the police handled the matter, it is impossible to complete the investigation using a child investigator. The minor’s rights continue to be violated at all times. I hope that the investigation team will act as it is mandated and completes the investigation of the minor as soon as possible, by sending investigators to (collect testimony) at the institution where she is staying and being treated. “


Source: Israel in the News