First Israeli Convicted in Mob Attack on Arab Motorist During May’s Gaza War

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Said Moussa after he was attacked in Bat Yam, May 12, 2021.
Said Moussa after he was attacked in Bat Yam, May 12, 2021.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

A 20-year-old Jewish resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam was convicted last week of involvement in the brutal attack on an Arab motorist in the town in May, during the recent war that Israel fought with Hamas and its allies in Gaza.

The assailant, Lahav Nagauker, is the first of ten defendants to be convicted in the assault of the motorist, Said Moussa, a 33-year-old resident of Ramle, who was dragged out of his car and beaten by the mob.

The conviction by the Tel Aviv District Court came as part of a plea agreement reached last week in which Nagauker admitted to his actions and consented to being convicted of incitement to violence, incitement to racism, creating a disturbance out of racist motives and maliciously damaging of a vehicle out of racist motives.

As part of the plea agreement, two charges – incitement to terrorism and theft out of racist motives – were dropped. If he had been convicted of them, it may have provided the basis for a harsher sentence. His sentence was not agreed upon in the plea agreement and will be imposed at a later date.

Nagauker was involved in the assault on Moussa from the beginning, having recruited others through a group on the WhatsApp messaging service, where he wrote: “If we’ve already begun, we don’t need to be afraid to finish this.” The incident occurred on May 12, in the midst of the war, which saw barrages of rockets fired at Israeli cities and Israeli aerial bombardment of Gaza in response.

Nagauker went with a group of dozens of others to the site of the attack near the Bat Yam seafront promenade with the intention of damaging Arab-owned businesses. He and the others gathered outside an Arab-owned restaurant, which they then vandalized amid calls of “Death to the Arabs.”

After Moussa happened onto the scene, dozens of people participated in the attack on him and his car, dragging him out of his car and punching him and throwing objects at him and apparently rendering him unconscious.

Kan TV interview with Lahav Nagauker (in Hebrew)

It took the police time before those suspected of involvement were indicted even though the incident was captured on video and still footage. Twelve days after the incident, only three of the suspects were charged, although a Haaretz analysis of video footage showed that the faces of about 20 people were identifiable. After Haaretz reported this, seven others were indicted.

As part of the plea agreement, Nagauker admitted to damaging Moussa’s car and later, when Moussa was sprawled on the street, to have spat at him. Immediately following the incident, Nagauker told a news crew from Kan public broadcasting that he had taken to the streets to confront Arabs “to show them that they can’t send missiles here,” as he put it. “We’ll beat them and if necessary, we’ll also murder them. Small children are dying due to the missiles. I’m prepared to be arrested.”

Negev attack

Also on Monday, charges were pressed against five residents of the Bedouin town of Lakiya in southern Israel for their involvement in mob attacks during the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Gazan militants in May.

Police and the Shin Bet security service announced that the five men were involved in three incidents of mob violence that occurred on May 11 on a major highway in southern Israel, near Lakiya.

The defendants are Kutsai al-Assad, Hassan al-Assad, Omar al-Assad, A'al al-Assad and another minor who was not named.

According to Shin Bet, the suspects first attacked a Jewish woman driving a car, removing her from the vehicle and lighting it on fire. Later, they threw stones at a car driven by a Thai foreign worker. After stopping the car, the suspects dragged the driver out of his vehicle and attacked him before also setting his car on fire. After realizing the driver was not Jewish, the men stopped their assault, and he was taken to hospital to receive medical treatment.

After this incident, they pelted the car of a Jewish driver with rocks and attempted to remove him from his seat by force when the police arrived to the scene and stopped the attack.

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