Police reopen investigation of Palestinian accused in rape of 7-year-old Jewish girl


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel Police said with new information coming to light, they will reopen their investigation into the rape of a 7-year-old Jewish girl allegedly by a Palestinian man who worked as a maintenance man at her West Bank settlement school.

According to Israeli media reports, no physical evidence has been discovered to tie the suspect, Mahmoud 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.

Katusa, who was indicted Monday in a West Bank military court for rape, assault and abduction, reportedly worked for many years in the Jewish settlement where the girl lives, both at the school and in construction. His attorney has said that he has an alibi for the time that the alleged rape took place from a Jewish employer.

Katusa, a resident of the village of Deir Qaddis, was charged following a three-month investigation. Police are still searching for two other men who allegedly witnessed and aided the crime.

“In order to fully clarify suspicions against others involved in the offense, and in light of new information that was received after the case had been made public, we decided to instruct the central unit at the Jerusalem District to carry out further steps in the investigation,” the police said in a statement.

Police reportedly are investigating another case involving Katusa, and the Israel Security Agency could become involved in that probe.

Katusa allegedly became friendly with the girl by giving her sweets, finally bringing her to a building near the school where he held her against her will and raped her. The girl and her family, who are said to be haredi, have not been identified publicly.

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