Brothers of Teen Stabbed at Tel Aviv LGBTQ Shelter Charged With Attempted Murder

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The scene of the stabbing attack outside the Beit Dror shelter in Tel Aviv.
The scene of the stabbing attack outside the Beit Dror shelter in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2019. Credit: Meged Gozani

Two brothers from the northern Arab town of Tamra were indicted on Sunday, along with a friend of theirs, for the attempted murder in July of their teenage brother outside the Beit Dror LGBTQ hostel in Tel Aviv in a stabbing attack.

The victim's 28- and 23-year-old brothers and their friend, Jamal Kanai, 24, are accused of stabbing the 16-year-old victim due to their objection to his sexual identity.

The two brothers are also charged with aggravated wounding in connection with a separate incident in March in which they allegedly attacked the teen. A fourth defendant, 26-year-old Wassim Abu Hamed of Salem in the north, is charged with assisting the main defendants.

On July 26, the three defendants went to Tel Aviv with the intention to kill the victim, stopping near Beit Dror and waiting for him to leave the hostel alone, the indictment states. The identities of the two brothers is subject to a gag order to avoid disclosure of the identity of the victim, who is a juvenile.

The evidence against the defendants in the Tel Aviv attack includes the account of that the teen himself, provided investigators at the hospital following the stabbing, as well as security camera footage, fingerprints from the scene and cell phone location data.

The victim was in critical condition on his arrival at the hospital, where doctors removed a portion of a lung and his gall bladder to stabilize his condition. The prosecution claims that, following the arrest of the two brothers, family members attempted to persuade the victim to change his account and tell the police that he did not know who stabbed him.

A protester holds a pro-LGBTQ rights sign at a protest in Haifa on August 1, 2019.Credit: Amir Levy

Beit Dror serves LGBTQ teens between the ages of 14 and 18 who have been rejected or feel unsafe at home due to their sexual orientation. A number of the residents are Israeli Arabs. The stabbing outside Beit Dror prompted a first-ever protest in Haifa at the beginning of this month, attended by some 200 people, focusing on homophobia in the Arab community. 

The director the Aguda LGBT taskforce, Ohad Hizki, welcomed the indictment. "No teen deserves to be stabbed just because of their sexual orientation and gender identity," he said. "All of us have the right to live our lives in security and without fear [and] we will continue to fight until there is full equality of rights."

With regard to the alleged  prior assault, the indictment states that in March, the victim's two brothers attacked the him after the older of the two discovered that he was in a romantic relationship with a male. According to the charges, they beat him unconscious, punching, slapping and kicking him in the presence of their mother and another brother.

In May, after the teen reported the incident to the police, one of the brothers allegedly pushed him into a car and took him home to scuttle his efforts to get help from the police and to leave home. In June, he fled to Beit Dror and received a court-appointed guardian.

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