JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish teen suspected in the death of a Palestinian woman in the West Bank after a rock hit her while in a moving car was charged with manslaughter.
The indictment against the high school student, 16, from the central West Bank, was filed Thursday morning.
The charges include manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle. The minor teen’s name remains under a gag order.
The prosecution asked that he remain in custody until the end of the trial.
Aisha Mohammed Rabi, 47, was killed at the Tapuah Junction in mid-October when a rock thrown at the car driven by her husband struck Rabi in the head. Her husband told the international media that the rocks were thrown from near a Jewish settlement and that he heard people speaking Hebrew, though he did not see them.
The day before the indictment, a judge in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court announced that DNA of the teen was found on the rock that smashed through the windshield of the car, killing Rabi, a mother of 9. The judge also reportedly said that the teen gave an explanation about why his DNA was on the rock, the first time he provided testimony since his arrest.
The indictment says that the teen and other students from the Pri Haaretz Yeshiva high school in the West Bank settlement of Rehalim on Oct. 12 stood on a hill close to Route 60 in the West Bank. The indicted teen “held a rock weighing close to two kilograms, with the intention of using it to harm Arab car passengers, based out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward Arabs everywhere.”
The indictment also says that he threw the rock at the front of the car after he noted that it had Palestinian license plates, with the intention of harming those in the vehicle, which also included the couple’s 9-year-old daughter.
Four other teens from the Pri Haaretz Yeshiva high school in the West Bank settlement of Rehalim were arrested for suspected involvement in the incident. They were held for several days and then released to house arrest. No other indictments are expected in the case, however, according to reports.
The teens each had been prevented from meeting with an attorney for about a week after their arrests. The Honenu organization, which provides free legal defense for Jewish settlers, called the interrogation of the teens “brutal.”
The father of the teen spoke to reporters after the indictment was filed. “We know our son is innocent. The ordinary man-on-the-street understands our son is innocent. Unfortunately, the excessive motivation to find guilty at all costs has turned us into victims. It will take time unfortunately but one day our son will be exonerated. We’re sure of this and we know it. But who will give back the years of youth stolen from him? Who will heal his broken heart and that of the family? And of his friends? Who will answer for this? We don’t know that. We’re strong and we will try to hold on,” he said.
If a guilty verdict is returned, the manslaughter charge could carry a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, though it could be mitigated since the alleged assailant is a minor.