Netanyahu chides media, politicians for silence on ‘nationalistic gang rape’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Israeli media and the political establishment for not reacting to the alleged rape of a Jewish woman who said three Palestinians violated her for nationalistic reasons.

The incident occurred earlier this month in southern Tel Aviv, the news site nrg reported. The victim accused two Palestinians in their 20s and another Palestinian minor of raping her. The minor and another suspect are under arrest and denying any wrongdoing. A third suspect implicated in the case is at large. Some details of the affair are subject to a gag order.

Reports did not indicate why the complainant — who is reported to have a mental disability — said her rape was a hate crime, but the news site nrg reported they used “racist language” during the act, which one of them filmed used a smartphone. It occurred on May 12, Israel’s independence day. The victim, 20, reportedly came to a building where the men were living to visit her aunt. She entered the men’s apartment at their invitation, the report said. At least one of the men relieved himself on the victim, according to the police.

On Thursday, Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page: “This is a shocking crime that requires unanimous condemnations, yet such condemnation was not heard – not in the media and not across the political spectrum. We can only imagine what would have happened if the roles were reversed. We will make the ones involved in this cruel act pay the full price, and exercise the full extent of penalties set in law.”

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On Friday, Netanyahu apologized for his original post on the affair, which he said “was inappropriate before the investigation is exhausted, and I regret this action.” He explained the reports “caused me deep pain and profound shock.”

Following Netanyahu’s post, Israeli police divulged some details about the case to media, which reported about the affair for the first time.  Michal Rozin, a lawmaker for the left-wing Meretz party, criticized police’s failure to offer information earlier, in what she said was an attempt to hide the case from the public even though some of its details were not subject to a gag order.

She wrote a letter to Interior Security Minisger Gilad Erdan, asking for explanations. “This practice of concealment is unacceptable and, I regret to say, a serious infringement on proper procedure.” She asked Erdan to look into possible police negligence or malpractice.

Rozin also criticized on Facebook Netanyahu’s reaction to the incident, which she said was used by Netanyahu “for political ends, to foment hatred and dissent.“

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