Two Arab men accused of raping a mentally handicapped Jewish girl are to be released from police custody, after their alleged victim suddenly withdrew her complaint.
Police confirmed they will be releasing the men – both from the Palestinian Authority – representing the latest twist in an increasingly strange story.
The girl had claimed that three Arab men, two from the PA and one Israeli Arab, had systematically raped her while hurling anti-Semitic slurs and other abuse at her. However, investigators say they found no evidence that violence or abuse was involved in the incident.
As it stands, one suspect – a minor from the Palestinian Authority – is still to be charged with the lesser offense of being in Israeli sovereign territory illegally.
The second suspect, Imad a-Din Daraghmeh, will have his remand extended for just one additional day, as police struggle to tie him to the incident.
The police are still searching for a third suspect, believed to be an Arab Israeli citizen.
The victim in the case had told police that the three men had raped and abused her, spitting and humiliating her for being Jewish, while filming the incident. The suspects had denied being with the victim at all, but during the course of the investigation police found footage of one of them with her.
This latest twist comes after a series of bizarre zigzags regarding the case by police earlier this week.
After initially refusing to label the allegedly nationalistically-motivated assault as an act of terror, police suddenly opted to include "nationalistic motives" in its charge sheet against the suspects. Minutes later, however, those charges were removed – only to be reinserted shortly afterwards after a senior police commander intervened.
Police have yet to explain, however, how there could be no evidence of rape when evidence corroborating the alleged victim's claims was reportedly found on one of the men's phones.
What's more, even if the sex was "consensual" it may still be classified as rape given the girl's mental disabilities.