Israeli Man Allegedly Throws Stones at Arab Laborers in What Police Term a Hate Crime

Drunk 26-year-old was arrested with a firebomb in his hand, allegedly tried to torch the construction workers' residence at the Rehovot site. 'Someone should put an end to Arab issue,' he is said to have told police.

A crane at work at a construction site in Kiryat Malakhi, in southern Israel, January 2017.
Ilan Assayag

An Israeli man is suspected of throwing stones at Arab construction workers and threatening to burn them in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rehovot. Police say 26-year-old Igor Kaplon, who was arrested holding a firebomb, assaulted the workers when drunk last week.

Police believe the alleged assault was a hate crime, and have requested the court on Sunday to extend Kaplon's arrest. The court extended his arrest until Wednesday. 

Kaplon arrived at the construction site last week and "started breaking up the place and throwing stones, and then tried to torch the structure where the complainants reside," the police's Senior Staff Sgt. Maj. Dmitri Shenkar told the  Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court last week.

He added that Kaplon said at his interrogation that "he was tired of the government's conduct" and that "someone should put an end to Arab issue." 

The judge, Guy Avnon, revealed further details from Kaplon's interrogation last week. When asked if he intended to burn the workers because they're illegals, Kaplon replied: "Yes, I was so mad, I lost it because of them." When an interrogator asked: "So you would have burned people and if they would have died you would have been a murderer. Is that what you wanted?" Kaplon said: "No, but it bugs me that they're taking over." When asked if he was not drunk, would he have acted the same, Kaplon said: "If I hadn't drank and there would have been a small tackle, I would have broken their teeth." 

Charges against Kaplon have yet to be brought, as indicting a person on racism-motivated crimes requires the approval of the State Prosecutor's Office, which is still pending. 

Kaplon's public defender Gil Edelman told Haaretz that he has yet to see the evidence material, but from his conversation with his client it appears that the incident occurred because Kaplon was drunk and not due to hate or racism. "He said that he was sorry for his behavior," Edelman said.