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Police abandon racism motive in Burqa shooting

While the homicide charges against Yehiel Indore have been downgraded, he remains the prime suspect in the killing of 19-year-old Kosei Ma’atan.

Yehiel Indore in hospital. Credit: Courtesy.
Yehiel Indore in hospital. Credit: Courtesy.

Police no longer suspect Yehiel Indore of a racist motive in the killing of a Palestinian during a clash last week near the Arab village of Burqa in Samaria.

According to a new remand request filed by police, “racist motivation” has been removed from the charges against Indore, according to Reuters.

However, Indore still remains the prime suspect in the killing of 19-year-old Kosei Ma’atan. The Jerusalem District Court extended his custody for an additional five days on Friday.

Indore is still being charged with causing death with intent or indifference (an offense equivalent to murder), riot resulting in damage, conspiracy to commit a crime and obstruction of justice.

“There is a meaningful development that significantly links Indore to what is attributed to him and noticeably strengthens the reasonable suspicion against him,” the police representative said at the hearing.

Indore, 28, did not attend the hearing as he remains hospitalized at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem after undergoing surgery for a severe head wound sustained during the confrontation that led to the fatal shooting.

However, on Sunday he was moved from the hospital to police custody.

Elisha Yered, another suspect in the killing, was released to house arrest on Wednesday evening.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled on Wednesday afternoon that both suspects should be released to house arrest. Police appealed both decisions, but the court acceded to the request regarding Indore only.

He was arrested along with Yered, 22, who was accused of interfering with a police investigation by taking Indore’s gun back to his home following the shooting.

Yered will be under house arrest at his uncle’s home, where he is prohibited from using the phone. He is allowed to leave the premises only for police questioning or court dates.

Yehiel Indore. Source: Twitter.

Indore remains under police guard in a Jerusalem hospital. The district court ruled on Tuesday that his family will be allowed to visit.

On Aug. 4, hundreds of Arabs from Burqa confronted a Jewish shepherd grazing his flock near the village.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement following the incident that, “Verbal confrontations ensued which were followed by the hurling of rocks by both sides, and the firing of fireworks by Palestinians.

“During the confrontation, Israeli civilians fired at the Palestinians. As a result of the confrontation, a Palestinian was killed, four others were injured, and a Palestinian vehicle was found burned. Several Israeli civilians were injured by rocks,” according to the IDF.

According to Indore’s attorney, Nati Rom, dozens of Jews arrived at the scene, including his client, to protect the shepherd. Indore fired a warning shot but was then surrounded, and only shot to kill after he was struck in the head by a rock, said Rom.

“Anywhere else in Israel this event would have been defined as foiling an attack,” said the attorney.

Five Palestinians arrested on Aug. 7 for suspected involvement in the clashes were released last week, subject to certain restrictions. Additional arrests are expected.

The case has drawn sharply different reactions, with opposition politicians and left-wing activist groups quick to accuse the Jewish suspects of murder.

Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli called for the deportation of the family of the “terrorist settler” on Aug. 6, doubling down the next day after receiving pushback for her remarks from pro-settlement groups and coalition members.

“It turns out that there are those who don’t like the fact that I said that the Netanyahu coalition is a party of terrorism supporters. So I’ll take this opportunity to say it clearly one more time,” Michaeli tweeted on Aug. 7.

Benny Gantz, head of the opposition National Unity faction, spoke on Aug. 6 of the development of a “dangerous Jewish nationalist terrorism.”

Israel Gantz, chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council, criticized the rush to judgment.

“The hatred among elements of the extreme left is amazing. Even a Jew who is hospitalized in serious condition with a deep head wound does not make them stop for a moment and think that he probably acted in self-defense, to save his life,” he said.

“They give automatic backing to the terrorism that threatens us every day on the roads, in the settlements and everywhere,” he said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Otzma Yehudit, tweeted on Aug. 6, “The Israeli media (again) got confused: a Jew who defends himself and others against … Palestinians is not a murder suspect but a hero who will receive my full support.

“There may be some who are confused about which side they are on— I’m not confused. Always on the side of my people, certainly when the danger of death hovers over the head of a Jew who is required to respond with determination and heroism,” he said.

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