T
hree Eritrean nationals have been arrested on suspicion of raping and robbing a 15-year-old girl near the Central Bus Station in south Tel Aviv three weeks ago, the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court announced Thursday.
According to the court, the incident occurred on the eve of Independence Day in the Shapira neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Following the incident, police collected DNA samples which led them to the three suspects, aged 18-24, who were arrested a week ago.
At around 4:30 am the girl and her boyfriend, who is also a minor, left a nightclub and entered the yard of a nearby building. Soon afterwards three African refugees entered the yard.
At first, they allegedly attacked the two and stole some of their valuables, including their cellular phones, a necklace and cash. At least one of them then allegedly raped the girl while the others held her boyfriend down.
Following the incident, the two teens were questioned by police before being transferred to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, where DNA samples were taken from the girl.
A week ago police tracked down and arrested one of the suspects, who recounted the incident and led them to the other two. The three had been working odd jobs in Israel since arriving from Eritrea in the past year.
Though a gag order was placed on the incident, residents of the Shapira neighborhood got wind of it and held demonstrations against the presence of the refugees in their community.
In late April, a man was arrested on suspicion of hurling Molotov cocktails into the homes of African refugees in Tel Aviv. Police said the multiple attacks last week may have been organized by a local underground group that hopes to intimidate the Africans and force them to leave the area. However, it is possible the attacks were connected to the alleged Independence Day rape incident.