Netanyahu protests lack of ‘wall-to-wall’ condemnation of alleged attack by 3 Arabs; Labor’s Yachimovich says he’s exploiting incident to incite hatred

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on May 22, 2016. (Emil Salman/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on May 22, 2016. (Emil Salman/POOL)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a recent suspected gang-rape by three Arab men of a disabled Jewish woman in what police are calling a nationalistically motivated attack to criticize the Israeli media and the political left for alleged silence over Palestinian violence.

Police revealed on Wednesday that a Palestinian man and a teenager were arrested in the rape of a mentally and physically handicapped Israeli woman in Jaffa earlier this month.

A third man, an Israeli citizen, is also believed to have been involved in the sexual assault and remains at large. According to reports, one of the suspects filmed the attack.

In a Facebook post Thursday evening, Netanyahu said the “horrifying crime” warranted “wall-to-wall condemnation,” condemnation that was not forthcoming “not from the media and not from across the political spectrum.”

Posted alongside a screenshot of a Channel 2 report on the incident, Netanyahu added: “We can only imagine what would have happened if the tables were reversed,” suggesting that the outcry would have been stronger had Jewish men raped a disabled Palestinian woman.

The prime minister vowed the perpetrators of the crime would be found and punished to the full extent of the law.

Earlier Thursday, before Netanyahu’s post, Meretz head Zehava Gal-on wrote on Facebook that the incident was “so awful, that it’s hard to even read about it, and impossible to imagine what the victim was going through right now.”

Gal-on also said the rape amounted to a “hate crime” and an example of how men use rape to carry out political revenge attacks against women. She added that is was “scary and infuriating” to see that type of attack happen in Israel.

On Wednesday, the day police revealed the incident, MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) wrote a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) asking why this “act of severe sexual violence” was not revealed sooner, and criticized the “practice of concealment” on the part of police.

Rozin also questioned other aspects of the police’s handling of the incident.

In response to Netanyahu, Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich said the prime minister should “be ashamed of yourself” for having “zero empathy for rape victims until there’s a window of opportunity to incite” hatred between Jews and Arabs.

Yachimovich accused the prime minister of ignoring issues of sexual violence thus far.

“We never heard a word from your mouth in the case of the rapist Katsav [Israel’s eighth president currently serving a seven-year prison term for rape], no moral statement on the horrifying investigation [into assault accusations against the late IDF general and right-wing politician Rehavam] ‘Gandhi’ [Ze’evi], no comment on the fate of the raped, harassed and persecuted each day and every hour…or on sexual harassment in the IDF,” she accused.

“All of a sudden you take an interest in rape victims?” she asked. “When the rapists are Palestinians. And when there’s an opportunity to exploit the rape for purposes of incitement.”

The men suspected of involvement in the attack are believed to have raped the disabled young woman and abused her, urinating and spitting on her, and shouting racial epithets during the attack. One of the suspects, Imad Aldin Draghmah, allegedly filmed the brutal assault, the Walla news site reported.

The two Palestinians who have been arrested were originally from the West Bank but had been renting an apartment in Tel Aviv, a police spokesperson told The Times of Israel Wednesday.

The Palestinian man had a legal permit to live in Tel Aviv, while the minor was doing so illegally, the official said.

Due to the victim’s physical and mental disabilities, police said they are treating the case with increased sensitivity and “caution.”

The Palestinian man will remain in jail until at least Monday, according to a Tel Aviv court order.

The second suspect is underage, so his case is being handled by the Tel Aviv juvenile court. He will also be detained until Monday, police said.

As reported The Times of Israel