Israeli leaders and large segments of the public responded with shock, dismay, and anger to the news of an Arab who viciously assaulted a seven-year-old Israeli girl.
The police stated Monday that it had submitted an indictment in a military court against an Arab man for the rape and a violent attack on a seven-year-old girl.
The police investigation was launched a few months ago after a complaint was received of the severe incident. The police employed a wide range of methods as part of the investigation to find the suspect.
The suspect was identified as Mahmoud Katusa, 46, and a father of children from the Arab village of Deir Kaddis in Samaria, who worked in an Israeli school as a cleaner.
According to the indictment, he lured the girl by talking to her and by giving her sweets. He then took the seven-year-old to a building where he attacked and raped her. His friends were reportedly present at the time of the attack and assisted him. They have yet to be identified and arrested.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “the shocking rape of a little girl shakes everyone’s heart. I want to strengthen the family.”
He called on the court to “fully exhaust the severity of the law with everyone responsible for this terrible act.”
Several politicians said that the attacker was motivated by nationalism and that the case should be treated and tried as an act of terrorism. Others called on the court to sentence Katusa as a terrorist and demanded the death penalty.
Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan on Monday evening called on the Shin Bet security service to get involved in the investigation.
He called the attack a “horrific act, inhuman, and inconceivable,” and said he “had no doubt” that the defendants and those who helped him “were fed by the incitement and hatred they absorb in the Palestinian Authority (PA) every day.”
“No matter what the abominable rapist says about the background and the circumstances, such an event must also be investigated as a nationalist incident. We must do everything to reach those who helped him,” Erdan said.
He called on the Shin Bet, police and the State Prosecutor’s Office “to use all means of interrogation in order to investigate whether the abominable rapist would have acted like this even if it was a Palestinian girl.”
“This is a despicable and inferior act of human animals and it is our duty to examine the direction of nationalistic inquiry and to find out if there was anyone who helped this terrible act,” he concluded.
Member of Knesset (MK) Moti Yogev stated that “a cruel rape of a girl by a cursed terrorist requires tools for deterrence. A cruel rape is just like murder.”
Because the death penalty is not imposed in Israel, Yogev demanded life imprisonment for the attacker, along with the demolition of his house and the expulsion of his family, as is his demand for terrorists in general.
“Whether it involved a nationalist motive or just a cruel rape, it is our responsibility to increase deterrence and save lives. Our hearts are with the child and her family,” he added.
Several Israeli activists gathered at the entrance to Deir Kaddis on Monday night and protested the attack, while politicians and activists are organizing a mass demonstration in Jerusalem on Wednesday.