Six residents of the Bedouin community of Umm Batin were charged with hate crimes Monday, including counts of aggravated assault and battery, throwing and shooting rocks and other objects at vehicles, intentionally damaging vehicles with a racist motive, rioting, terrorist acts and other crimes. Five of the six were minors.
The indictment, filed in Be’er Sheva District Court, concerned the residents' participation in riots during the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Gazan militants in May.
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During the riots near Umm Bitan, north of Be’er Sheva, rioters set up road blocks on the main road and attacked cars with Jewish passengers, the indictment said.
The men allegedly participated in the riots on Route 60 on May 10 and 11. The indictment reads that they were masked, burned tires, blocked roads and threw rocks at cars and police cars and their actions were racially motivated. The defendants and others allegedly ripped out the median divider between the lanes and used it to block the road, along with burning tires and large rocks. They stopped cars to see whether the driver was Jewish or Arab, allowing the Arabs to continue and attacking the Jews.
The mob, including the defendants, identified a car driven by Avichai Marciano, a resident of Be’er Sheva, who, along with a friend, was returning from a trip to the Dead Sea area. The mob, made up of dozens of rioters, began stoning the car, broke the windows with the two trapped inside, states the indictment. The defendants and others attacked the car, including the tires, and vandalized it.
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One of the defendants, a 15-year-old, shattered the driver’s window with a large rock, and the broken glass injured the driver in his face, back and legs, the indictment says. Marciano was screaming “don’t kill me” the entire time. At the same time, one of the attackers approached the passenger’s side of the car and broke that window, and later hit her in the head with a rock.
The female passenger tried to hide on the floor of the front seat of the car to protect herself, and tried to lock the car doors, while the mob outside tried to open her door and get at them. In the end, someone pushed away the defendant and Marciano was able to drive away, while the mob continued to throw rocks at the fleeing car. Once the car had gotten far enough away, an ambulance met them and provided them with medical treatment.