Hebrew graffiti targets Palestinian cleared in rape of Jewish child


JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hebrew graffiti calling for the death penalty for a freed rape suspect was painted in his West Bank village.

The threatening messages were discovered Wednesday morning in the village of Deir Qaddis, located near Ramallah. Several cars in the village also were damaged, according to reports.

“The death penalty is necessary for Mahmoud Katusa,” the graffiti read.

The indictment against Katusa, charging that he raped a 7-year-old girl who attended the West Bank settlement school where he worked as a janitor, was withdrawn by the Israel Defense Forces military advocate general a week after it was filed last month due to a lack of evidence. He had been held in jail for two months prior to the indictment.

Since Katusa’s release, police have not questioned or arrested anyone else as a suspect, Haaretz reported.

Following the announcement of the indictment, right-wing leaders, including Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, called for the death penalty “for the heinous terrorist.”

According to Israeli media reports, no physical evidence has been discovered to tie Katusa to the attack. The girl was not examined by a doctor until at least five days after the incident, and a pair of underwear that the girl wore on the day of the alleged attack was not sent for forensic testing, according to reports. Police also had not been able to locate two other men that the girl said held her down during the assault.

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