Israel Sees a Wave of Attacks on Both Jews and Arabs, but Only Arabs Indicted So Far

116 people charged in riots in mixed cities, all members of the Arab community, most for assaulting police officers

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Shattered windows at an Arab-owned business in Bat Yam, in central Israel.
Shattered windows at an Arab-owned business in Bat Yam, in central Israel.Credit: Hadas Parush

Prosecutors have charged 116 people – all of them Arabs – in the Jewish-Arab violence that has engulfed the country in recent weeks, most for assaulting police officers.

Sources at the State Prosecutor’s Office said they planned to press more charges “soon,” including against Jewish Israelis involved in anti-Arab violence.

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The police have been preparing for another week of unrest across the country, but officials are complaining that a lack of quality intelligence, especially on Jewish suspects, has prevented the police from halting escalations in time.

Police officials fear two scenarios: either a clash between Jews and Arabs that kills another civilian, such as the shooting of Moussa Hassouna in the central city of Lod, or an Arab Israeli being shot dead by the police. 

Two Jewish Israelis in front of an Arab-owned shop which was wrecked by Jewish rioters, in the central city of Bat Yam, last week.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

“In contrast to the Gaza campaign, life in Lod between Arabs and Jews with the police in the middle will continue after the operation,” a police official said. “We must not burn bridges with the Arab community.”

On Thursday, the state prosecutor ordered that the indictment process be expedited and filed a request to keep the suspects in custody.

All the indictments state that the suspected crimes were carried out against the backdrop of Arab-Jewish clashes, culminating in a string of severe incidents last week.

The most serious charges are against a Palestinian man for the alleged assault of a Jewish man in Jerusalem.

According to the indictment, the defendant spotted a Jewish man driving toward the Western Wall and called on others to hurl stones at the car. When the driver tried to escape, the group chased him and beat him up out of a “racist motive,” according to the indictment.

Since the start of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip last week, 1,097 people have been detained. Of these, about 450 have been brought before a judge and kept in custody. The rest have been released with restrictions.

Only about 200 Jews have been arrested. They include one minor and two men in their 20s, residents of Bat Yam, who allegedly were part of a mob that pulled an Arab man out of his car in the Tel Aviv suburb and beat him brutally. They were due to be brought before a judge Monday evening.

Among the Jews arrested are people suspected of taking part in violent incidents in or near Lod. 

One Jewish man was arrested for incitement to violence as part of a group on the messaging app Telegram calling for retaliatory attacks on Arab Israelis. A law enforcement source said that charges against additional Jewish suspects are expected this week.

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