Following the publication of a report in Haaretz last week, the Knesset is planning to discuss the case of a Palestinian woman who claims that she was raped in 2012 by an Israeli police officer an interrogation room.
A polygraph test found that the woman was telling the truth, and there is further evidence that supports her story. However, following a 10-month investigation after the complaint was received; the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct closed the case without any arrests.
Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) sent a letter to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, requesting an urgent meeting on the matter. He asked that both the Justice Ministry department and the police send representatives to the meeting.
“The decision to file a complaint in sexual assault cases is always difficult, but in the case of a woman who lives under the occupation and must complain to that very same system, it demands inconceivable courage and strength,” Odeh write in his letter. He added that the police internal investigations department “is once again functioning as a cover-up organization instead of trying to reveal the truth and bring the people responsible to justice.”
The incident is alleged to have taken place at the Hizme checkpoint near Jerusalem five years ago, when Leila (not her real name) was arrested on suspicion of being in Israel illegally. At the police station, she was questioned for a few minutes in one room and then taken to another room where, she said, her interrogator harassed her. He left the room soon afterward. Then, she said, a man in a Border Police uniform came in and raped her. “This was a shocking incident and a scandalous investigation that raises serious questions about the misconduct unit’s conduct,” Odeh said. “Therefore, it’s important and essential that we discuss this particular case and demand answers from the responsible parties.”
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), who chairs the Status of Women committee, agreed. “This case proves that even when a woman musters the courage to complain, the law enforcement system would rather close the case than invest the resources needed to bring the criminal to justice,” she said. “The rape itself and the subsequent scandalous conduct are nothing less than war crimes, and they must not be allowed to pass without all the parties involved bearing responsibility for their acts or their silence.”
Related: Haaretz English-Language Report