Israeli Arab and Jewish Terror Suspects Indicted; Lynching Suspects Suspended

Brother of Bedouin terror suspect indicated for failing to prevent attack that killed soldier, while Jewish teen faces charges for stabbing Israeli Arabs.

Almog Ben Zikri
Gili Cohen
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Workers at the scene of the terror attack in Be'er Sheva, October 18, 2015.
Almog Ben Zikri
Gili Cohen

Two Israelis were indicted Monday for their roles in two separate attacks. Israel's Southern District Attorney handed down the indictment against Umar al-Okbi, the brother of the terrorist who committed the attack in the Be’er Sheva bus station last week; and the other against a Jewish teenager suspected of stabbing four Arabs in Dimona on October 9.

A Jewish man stabbed 3 Palestinians, 1 Bedouin in Dimona Friday morning Credit: Police Spokesperson

Meanwhile, disciplinary proceedings have begun against two Israeli prison personnel suspected of playing a role in the lynching of an Eritrean man mistaken for the terrorist behind the Be'er Sheva attack.

The Israeli Arab, Umar al-Okbi, a Bedouin who has no criminal background, is accused of weapons offenses and failing to prevent a crime. He was arrested the day after the attack. He allegedly saw his brother, Mohannad al-Okbi, holding a gun six months ago, and knew he had also purchased a knife.

He allegedly heard his brother saying recently that Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque had to be liberated and making various statements against Jews. The district attorney is charging that Umar did not take reasonable steps to prevent Mohannad from possessing the gun.

Visitors at family home of 21-year-old Mohannad al-Okbi, who was killed while allegedly carrying out a terrorist attack at Be’er Sheva’s central bus station. October 19, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Al-Okbi’s attorney, Ziyyad Abu-Anam, commented, “My client asserted from the beginning of the investigation that he did not know of his brother’s intention to commit a crime, and he could not have known.”

The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court released al-Okbi to house arrest until December 17. His attorney commented that given that the prosecution backed down from its original demand to have him remanded until the end of proceedings, it knows that the charges are devoid of any content.

Security forces at the Be'er Sheva Central Bus Station after a shooting attack, October 18, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Also Monday, the Southern District Attorney charged the Jewish youth in Dimona on four counts, including attempted murder, aggravated battery and serious acts of sabotage for an attack on four Arabs in town.

The boy’s lawyer, Itamar Ben Gvir, has asserted all along that the youth has serious psychiatric problems. The police and Dimona city officials backed this assertion. However, the boy has yet to be evaluated regarding his fitness to stand trial or ability to be held accountable for his actions. Rather, a psychiatrist from the district attorney’s office briefly evaluated him.

Suspects in the Be'er Sheva lynching in court, October 22, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Ben Gvir complained that the Arab terror suspects in the case of Alexander Levlovich, who was killed when his car was stoned on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, were only charged with manslaughter, while his client is being charged with attempted murder. “It feels like there is a discriminatory and racist policy in light of the fact that the boy is Jewish, and the district attorney is trying to make a show trial out of him,” he said.

Be'er Sheva lynching

Habtom Zarhum, the Eritrean bystander killed in Be'er Sheva in October 2015
Habtom Zarhum, the Eritrean killed in Sunday night's terror attack in the Be'er Sheva bus station.Credit: (Courtesy)

Meanwhile, the Israel Prisons Service announced that two of its employees who were allegedly involved in the lynching of Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum during the Be’er Sheva attack face suspension pending a hearing this weekend.

Police also arrested two Israeli civilians on suspicion of participating in the lynching.

Zarhum was shot last week at the Be’er Sheva bus station after being mistaken for a terrorist in the attack in which Sgt. Omri Levi was killed. After he was shot, a mob attacked him, kicking him in the head and throwing a bench on top of him. Zarhum later died of the gunshot wounds in hospital.

“Given the increase of recent terror activity, we need to be extra vigilant regarding open fire procedures,” said Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, responding to requests from human rights groups to clarify open fire procedures. “Firing after the danger has been prevented exceeds provisions of the law.”

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