Arab stone-throwers who assaulted Israeli children near Kusra clash with IDF
Arab stone-throwers who assaulted Israeli children near Kusra clash with IDFNasser Ishtayeh/Flash90

An IDF judge ordered the main suspect in November's near-lynching of Israeli children on a hike released due to problems in the police identification process.

In November, twenty-five 13-year-olds on a class trip celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of the youngest student were ambushed by dozens of Arabs hurling stones down at them from a ridge overlooking the entrance to a cave in eastern Samaria.

The children were escorted by two armed chaperones – both of them school staff members. The chaperones reported to the IDF that the class was under attack by stone-throwers, but were force it too defend the children alone for a full hour before soldiers arrived at the scene.

In the meantime, the hikers came under a barrage of stones and were forced to hide in a nearby cave.

While one of the two chaperones left to direct soldiers to the cave, the other chaperone was injured as the Arab lynch mob surrounded the entrance to the cave and began throwing stones in at the terrified hikers. By the end of the incident, both of the guards had been injured, along with one of the children. Two of the terrorists who had attacked the hikers were shot, one of them fatally.

In late December, police arrested Muhammad Wadi for his role in the riot. Wadi was indicted for participating in violent disturbances that took place after the attack both in the village and outside it. On Sunday however, Judge Ronan Atzmon ordered Wadi released, citing discrepancies in the police identification process.

According to Atzmon, police had failed to put Fadi through a lineup, in which victims are made to point out the perpetrator from a group of innocent people. Atzmon also criticized police for only showing one of the chaperones a picture of Fadi after he was already under arrest.

"It is difficult to say whether there is a chance that the appellant will be convicted," wrote Atzmon, hinting that the police negligence heightens the chance that the charges against Fadi will be dropped altogether.

Atzmon's ruling was fiercely criticized by Attorney Chaim Bleicher from the Honenu organization, which is representing the victims. "The detainee who was released was identified as one of the most dangerous attackers there. The victims identified him without any hesitation," he said. "Someone who was indicted for attempted murder should not be released even if there were problems with the police identification process."