Seven Jewish Israelis Arrested on Suspicion of Attacking Arab Civilian During Gaza Fighting

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Sidna Ali Mosque in Herzliya, Israel.
Sidna Ali Mosque in Herzliya, Israel. Credit: Vaknin Ofer

Seven Jewish Israelis have been arrested on suspicion of attacking and moderately injuring an Arab civilian near a mosque in a Tel Aviv suburb during Israel's latest flare-up in Gaza.  

The man, who is in his 60s, was stabbed with a sharp object and pepper-sprayed in Herzliya when hostilities with Gaza erupted. He was taken to the hospital to receive medical attention. Authorities believe the man was attacked because of his ethnicity.

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All the suspects reside in Herzliya. One of the suspects was placed under house arrest.   

A joint investigation by the police and the Shin Bet security service show that 15 young masked men in their 20s attacked the man as he was about to leave the Sidna Ali Mosque, hurling stones and boards at him. Police, however, believe that as many as 30 people were involved in the assault.

Some of those arrested are suspected of incitement to violence while others are suspected of carrying out the attack. The evidence collected includes messages from a WhatsApp group for encouraging people to attack Israeli Arabs during the fighting in Gaza.

Some suspects said they were prevented from meeting with their lawyers. One suspect told the court that he was tortured during a Shin Bet interrogation. The man said he was tied to a chair with an air conditioner directed at him for three hours. According to him, he was threatened by Shin Bet investigators, who he said prevented him from receiving clothing and basic items.

Meanwhile, three Israeli Arab men from the north have been charged with taking part in the shooting of a Kibbutz Givat Oz resident during hostilities with Gaza.

In the indictment filed against them on Thursday with a Haifa District Court, they are accused of terrorism.

In addition, indictments were filed against two Israeli Arabs from Kafr Qara for attacking Israeli Jews during the fighting with Gaza. 

Bashir Abu Rashad, 21, and Mohammed Hamarsha, 31, were charged with attacking Jews as a hate crime. They were arrested over the past few weeks in a joint investigation conducted by the police and the Shin Bet. Abu Rashad is suspected of involvement in an attack on a Jewish family that entered Kafr Qara by mistake on May 12. Their car was hit with a barrage of rocks and the attackers tried to open the car doors and hurt the passengers. Hamarsha is suspected of  involvement in an attack of Jewish man who accidentally encountered the riots in the town on May 11.

Meanwhile, seven residents of the Bedouin town of Lakiya – including two minors – were charged in Be’er Sheva District Court for throwing rocks at cars on the Trans-Israel Highway. The defendants were alleged to have thrown rocks from very close range at cars on the night of May 10, for “ideological-nationalist” reasons.

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