Israeli Gang Leader Sentenced to Prison for Beating Up Arab Men Dating Jewish Women

In February 2017, Raz Amitzur asked a man with a Jewish woman for a cigarette lighter to see if he had an Arab accent and then stabbed him multiple times in the back

Suspects at the Be'er Sheva District Court, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Be’er Sheva District Court sentenced a 20-year-old man on Monday to five and a half years in prison for knifing and beating up Arab men who dated Jewish women.

Under a plea bargain, Raz Amitzur admitted to four of the assaults in February through April 2017. The deal would reduce the original anti-terrorism charges against Amitzur in exchange for his admission to having racist motives.

The court accepted the prosecutors’ request for an extended jail term for his having been “the main spirit of a group that perpetrated these acts with a common thread of the motive being racist, without any provocation on the part of those who came under attack. This was no act of self-defense but deliberate, initiated attacks.”

Amitzur’s attorney’s argument for his client to be sentenced to community service was rejected.

Amitzur was convicted of accosting a couple seated in a vehicle parked outside Turner Stadium in Be’er Sheva in February 2017. Armed with a knife, he walked over to a parked vehicle where an Arab man was seated with a Jewish woman. He asked the man for a cigarette lighter, to see if he had an Arab accent and then stabbed him multiple times in the back, ribs, stomach and arm, and then fled the scene. The victim’s wounds were described by a source involved in the case as not serious.

Amitzur confessed to the charges of assault, serious sabotage, and causing injury under aggravated circumstances for racist motives. According to the amended indictment in the case, he attacked other Arab men with a steel rod and a hammer. The verdict said he did these things “to make them afraid and prevent personal relationships.”

Prosecutors reached a plea deal with four out of six other members of the group led by Amitzur, all residents of Be’er Sheva aged 17 to 20. Over the objections of the prosecutors, the court sentenced three defendants to community service.

The original indictments dealt with six instances of assault, including stabbings of Arab citizens spotted with Jewish women in the environs of Be’er Sheva, using knives, and in some cases beating them with clubs, hammers or pieces of wood. In some of these instances, defendants were accused of throwing stones at their victims.