The prosecutor's office filed an indictment Thursday morning against five Arab citizens and two Palestinians for their involvement in the murder of Yigal Yehoshua in Lod, after his car was pelted by stones during last months' riots.
The charges attribute a series of offenses to the seven men, including depraved-indifference murder in aggravated circumstances as part of a terrorist act. Designating criminal offenses as 'terrorist acts’ allow the length of the sentencing to be doubled.
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According to the indictment, the defendants sparked fires in the northern industrial area of the city to block traffic. They then approached the cars and when they confirmed the passengers were Jewish they threw stones at them from close range. Yehoshua was severely wounded by a stone that smashed his car window. He later died of his wounds.
On Sunday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court announced the indictment, following Haaretz's request, submitted by Adv. Tamir Glick. The accused are Haled Hassouna, Karim Bahalul, Yusef Alkadim, Walid Alkadim, and Iyad Marahala, all Lod residents and two more hailing from the West Bank: Ahmad Danun, a resident of Rentis, and Kamal Zif Allah, a resident of Beit Lakia, both in Israel illegally.
Almost all the defendants confessed to the crimes in their interrogations with Shin Bet officers and later re-enacted them. Security camera footage and a GPS system in Yehoshua's vehicle aided the police investigation; one of the defendants allegedly tried to remove the camera footage, leading to additional charges of obstructing a police investigation against six of the defendants. One of the main pieces of evidence in the prosecutor's case is WhatsApp correspondence between the defendants, which links them to the incident.
However, DNA material from the stone that hit Yehoshua's head was not a match with any of the defendants, which is expected to pose a challenge to the prosecutor's case. Additionally, police could not find evidence that the defendants' motive was revenge for the death of Moussa Hassouna, who was shot by Jews in the course of last month's riots in the city.
According to the attorney representing one of the defendants, his client was interrogated for long hours while tied to a chair. His sister told Haaretz last week that her brother "didn't do anything. He's an old man, I don't even want to know what they did to him there [in the interrogation room]." The cousin of two of the defendants told Haaretz that they were working at a venue near the attack but had nothing to do with the murder, and suggested that the confession was forced. In a Shin Bet interrogation "they don't let you sleep, they tie you up and that's how they get a confession. In the end they'll be released," he said.
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"It brings up complicated emotions," Irena, Yehoshua' wife, told Haaretz before the indictment was filed. "It reminds me of that time. We're trying to get back on our feet, produce some sort of routine, and now we must relive the experience."