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Suspected Burqa shooter released to house arrest

Earlier, the IDF and police arrested two Palestinians on suspicion of throwing stones during the clashes.

Yehiel Indore, suspected of killing Palestinian Kosai Ma'atan, arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, Aug. 14, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Yehiel Indore, suspected of killing Palestinian Kosai Ma'atan, arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, Aug. 14, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday ordered the release to house arrest of Yehiel Indore, the prime suspect in the killing of Palestinian Kosai Ma’atan during clashes near the Arab village of Burqa in Samaria on Aug. 4.

The police, which had requested an eight-day extension of Indore’s detention, appealed the ruling on Tuesday afternoon at the District Court, but without success.

“The court ruled unequivocally that Indore’s case can also be investigated while he’s under house arrest,” commented attorney Avichai Hajbi of the Honenu legal aid organization.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the prosecution acknowledged that no autopsy was performed on Ma’atan’s body.

“The [police’s] investigative unit cannot know what killed him, at what angle he was killed, whether Indore’s shot killed the Palestinian and whether [the shooting] took place before or after he [Indore] was brutally attacked,” Hajbi said.

DNA material was taken from the scene to determine the identity of the Palestinian attackers, the police representative stated during the hearing.

Earlier on Thursday, the IDF and police arrested two Palestinians on suspicion of throwing stones during the clashes near Burqa.

“The investigation team is working and will continue to work to bring to justice all those involved in the incident. More arrests are expected,” the Israeli Police said on Tuesday.

Four other Palestinians, residents of Burqa near Ramallah who were arrested earlier on suspicion of involvement in the violent incident, were released to their homes on Aug. 10.

The four, a father and three sons, were suspected of aggravated assault and causing grievous bodily harm. They were identified as the ones who threw the rock that wounded Indore.

Yehiel Indore was struck by a rock. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Indore, who suffered a head injury from the rock and required surgery, had been hospitalized in serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Indore attended his first court hearing on Monday; the judge rejected a police request to extend his remand in custody. It had already been extended for 10 days, ending on Tuesday.

The police representative told the court, “The claim of self-defense is significantly weakened. When you ask him about the Palestinians, he knows how to describe hundreds. When you ask him about the Jews, you feel that he has a selective memory,” Kan News reported.

Indore’s attorney, Nati Rom, said, “According to the medical report, he does suffer from memory problems.”

The police on Tuesday afternoon filed an appeal asking the Jerusalem District Court to reverse the magistrate’s court’s decision to release Indore to house arrest.

Indore said he acted in self-defense. Surrounded by Arabs, he shot Ma’atan only after he’d been struck by the rock, he said. Speaking from his hospital bed last week, Indore said he never faced “such severe danger to life” during his IDF service.

“We tried to escape the whole time [but] they attacked us from several directions. People around me recited vidui [confession prayers] and Shema Yisrael because they thought it would be their death,” Indore said, according to Channel 14.

Indore, 28, was arrested on the morning of Aug. 5 together with Elisha Yered, 22. Initially, no Arabs were arrested.

Yered, who is a former spokesman for Otzma Yehudit Knesset member Limor Son Har-Melech, is suspected of interfering with the police investigation by taking Indore’s gun back to his home.

Homicide suspect Elisha Yered arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Aug. 5, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

At an Aug. 6 hearing, it emerged that Yered had picked up the gun of Indore, who collapsed during his evacuation to a military intensive care vehicle. Yered took the gun to his home in Ramat Migron. Shortly thereafter, Yered made contact with the district police and asked where he should hand over the weapon.

“Despite this and despite giving a detailed version of events, he was suspected of obstructing investigative procedures. This is ridiculous because if he or others had hurried to get rid of the gun, they could have done so easily, but he passed the gun himself to the police,” Israeli news site HaKol HaYehudi reported on Aug. 6.

The court ordered Yered’s release on Aug. 9 over the prosecution’s protest.

Israeli opposition politicians, the U.N. and the U.S. State Department immediately denounced the killing of the Palestinian.

Settlement groups and coalition politicians in turn criticized the condemnations as coming before all the facts had come to light.

“The hatred by elements of the extreme left is amazing. Even a Jew who is hospitalized in serious condition with a deep head injury does not make them stop for a moment and think that he probably acted in self-defense to save his life,” said Israel Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, in whose jurisdiction the incident took place.

Even IDF Spokesman R. Adm. Daniel Hagari appeared quick to judgment. Referring to the skirmish near Burqa, he told Ynet on Aug. 7 it was Jewish terrorism.

“It is terrorism. There is no other way to define it. And let there be no doubt, these things push people in the Palestinian Authority who are not involved in terrorism to terrorism. This phenomenon needs to be addressed. As soon as this phenomenon is stopped, there will be less terrorism,” Hagari said.

“The IDF is experiencing a lot of pressure from the American administration, especially following previous events involving Palestinians who were also American citizens,” Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), told JNS.

“The best answer on this occasion, as in many others, is to say there’s been an incident, the investigation is ongoing and once we have more details, we’ll share them,” Avivi said.

As more details become available, the Palestinian version of events has been thrown in an increasingly problematic light. JNS reporter Akiva Van Koningsveld visited the site of the clash on Aug. 9. at the invitation of the Binyamin Regional Council.

The location indicated by the council’s security department clearly matched the area visible in TikTok videos shared by Palestinian accounts.

The topographical features of the area cast serious doubt on widely-circulated claims that the Jewish group sought the confrontation, a spokesperson for the council explained.

Crucially, Burqa is not visible from the site—it is located at a much lower altitude and maps indicate the Arab rioters had to hike approximately 500 to 700 meters (550 to 765 yards) uphill before encountering the shepherd, Koningsveld reported.

According to the testimony of Israeli witnesses, around 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, a crowd of Arabs from Burqa confronted a lone Jewish shepherd grazing his flock near the village.

“I was sitting in the pasture, and suddenly nine or 10 Arabs with clubs arrived, threatening me: ‘Wait a second, we’re coming for you.’ After 15 minutes, I saw that people were gathering in the area below me, and suddenly, a mass of 30 or 40 people began to surround me from all directions and throw stones at me,” the young shepherd told Channel 14 on Aug. 10.

“I called the guys here in the Oz Zion area. They [the group that included Indore and Yered] came very quickly and started to kick them [the Arabs] out,” he said.

Towards sunset, between 80 and 120 more Arab villagers arrived. They attacked the Israelis wielding iron and wooden bars, the shepherd said.

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