Israel Arrests Two More Suspects in May Assault on Arab Driver Amid Wave of Violence

Six other suspects have been indicted over the beating of Said Moussa ■ Judge criticizes police for delay in arrests despite knowledge of suspects' identities

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
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The attack on Said Moussa in May.
The attack on Said Moussa in May.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

Police arrested two more suspects on Friday in an assault on an Arab driver in Bat Yam that took place during clashes between Arabs and Jews in May.

The two are Moshe Mansour, 28, and Maor Mughrabi, 21, both of Bat Yam. They will be brought to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for bail hearings on Monday.

Six other suspects in the attack have also been arrested. But a study of video footage from the attack that Haaretz published weeks ago concluded that it was possible to see 20 assailants. The driver, Said Moussa of Ramle, was seriously wounded in the attack.

Police said that Mughrabi perpetrated one of the worst attacks on Moussa, throwing a scooter at his head when he was already lying on the ground. The suspect, who has no criminal record, confessed to the act and expressed regret for it.

Mansour is suspected of being one of the men who dragged Moussa out of his car. During an initial hearing following the arrests, a police officer told the court that Mansour “threw Moussa to the ground, kicked him and caused the entire mob to descend on him.” Mansour does have a criminal record, having been indicted for assaulting and threatening his wife.

Aside from the assault, both men are suspected of conspiring to commit a crime, since they “received WhatsApp messages from all kinds of people” prior to the attack, the officer said.

During the hearing, Judge Itai Hermelin criticized the police for having arrested the suspects only now despite having known their identity for around three weeks. Consequently, he said, the defense attorneys’ complaints of foot-dragging were justified.

Police said the arrests were delayed both because additional investigatory steps were necessary and because it took some time to locate the suspects. But Shimshon Weiss, Mughrabi’s public defender, said that over the last two weeks, police had contacted his client repeatedly, scheduled appointments for him to come in for questioning and then canceled them.

Asked for comment on the case, Weiss said, “The investigation is just beginning. When it ends, we’ll know the full picture and what role, if any, my client played in the incident. I suggest waiting until the investigation ends.”

Polina Sorin, Mansour’s public defender, told the court that Mansour was unable to identify himself in the picture police showed him, and that in any case, his presence at the scene isn’t proof that he participated in the assault, since he regularly visits that area. She also said Mansour suffers from Tourette Syndrome.

The other six suspects have already been indicted. One, Netanel Binyamin, was charged with attempted murder driven by racist motives. The others were charged with lesser offenses, though some of those charges also included racist motives.

Footage of the attack exists from two sources – Haaretz photographer Tomer Appelbaum and the Kan 11 television station, which broadcast the assault live as it was happening. In addition, a source familiar with the case said more than 70 people have given testimony to the police. Nevertheless, there have been only eight arrests so far.

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