Charges Added Against Two Defendants in Case of Arson on Jewish-Arab School in Jerusalem

Amended indictment includes counts of incitement to violence and support for terrorist group

Tali Meir

Prosecutors in the case against three men accused of torching Jerusalem’s bilingual Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in November amended the indictment to include additional charges against two of the defendants.

Nahman Twito, already facing charges of arson, breaking and entering, and destruction of property, will also now be charged with incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization. Yitzhak Gabbai is being charged with additional counts alleging incitement to violence, incitement to racism and support for a terrorist organization.

The new charges are based at least in part on rambling statements allegedly posted on Facebook by Gabbai. They include “Death to the Arabs [We’re] sick of them a holocaust should be done to them!”; “Revenge needed for details contact the Arab near you”; and expressions of support for violence against left-wing activists and Arabs and support for Rabbi Meir Kahane and Kach.

Kahane’s Kach Party and the Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) movement have been declared terrorist organizations. Kahane, a Brooklyn-born rabbi and former member of Israel’s parliament, was shot dead by an Arab gunman at a Manhattan hotel in November 1990.

The third defendant is Nachman Twito’s brother, Shlomo. The defendants are active in the right-wing group Lehava, which is at the heart of an expanded investigation of the arson at the Jewish-Arab school.

The amended indictment, which was announced on Tuesday, was approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

The original indictment alleges that the three met at the home of Gabbai’s father and conspired to torch and spray graffiti on the school because Jewish and Arab children attend class there together.

The indictment also alleges that the arson attack was carried out “after the accused learned that a ceremony had been held at the school in memory” of the late Palestinian president and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “several weeks before, against the backdrop of terrorist attacks that had taken place in the city.”

The three allegedly cased the school to determine where they could get in and, on November 29, carried out the arson attack. The attack damaged two classrooms and other areas of the building.