Three Jewish Suspects Indicted in Attempted Lynching of Arab Driver in Central Israel

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Arab driver Said Moussa moments after he was attacked in Bat Yam, earlier this month
Arab driver Said Moussa moments after he was attacked in Bat Yam, earlier this month Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

The prosecution filed terrorism charges against three of the Jewish men involved in the mob beating of an Arab man in the central city of Bat Yam two weeks ago, amid violence between Arabs and Jews throughout the country and renewed hostilities between Israel and Gaza.

For the attack on Ramle resident Said Moussa, the prosecution filed with terrorism charges against the three involving attempted murder, aggravated assault, malicious damage to a vehicle out of racist motives, theft due to racist motives, rioting for racist motives that resulted in damage, incitement to terrorism and incitement to racism, each according to the individual defendant's alleged role in the incident.

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Two weeks ago, a mob of right-wing Jewish extremists in Bat Yam pulled Moussa out of his car and beat him. He was evacuated for medical treatment in serious condition, but the 33-year-old’s condition improved and he was released from the hospital last week.

The scene where a mob attacked Arab driver Said Moussa earlier this monthCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

The defendants are Netanel Binyamin, 25; Lahav Nagauker Ohanina, 18; and a 16-year-old minor whose name remains under gag order. A fourth person was arrested on Saturday, and the prosecution has yet to file charges against him.   

A police representative, Senior Staff Sgt. Maj. Gadi Avidan, said in a discussion on the matter last week that there was “preliminary planning on the part of all the suspects to arrive in a certain place in a WhatsApp group, how to get there and what to do in case they encountered an Arab.” He added, “The three defendants engaged in inciting the mob before the victim arrived. They stole, looted from and destroyed stores owned by Arabs. When they saw an Arab, they carried out an extremely merciless beating.”

Avidan said that Nagauker Ohanina was one of the main participants in the beating. The second defendant, Binyamin, has been termed by police as "the cruelest defendant" in the case. Binyamin claimed in his interrogation that he acted in self-defense and that Moussa himself was a terrorist, but police said that there is "a world of difference" between his version of events and the evidence.

Minutes after the beating of Moussa, Nagauker Ohanina told a Kan public broadcaster news team at the scene that he came out that night in order to clash with Arabs. "We came out to the streets to fight with Arabs, in order to show them that they can't fire missiles here," he said. "We'll beat them, and if we need to we'll kill them. Small children are being killed because of missiles, I'm ready to be arrested."

Prior to the beating, dozens of right-wing activists marched in the city and attacked a number of Arab-owned businesses. The rioters smashed windows, threw objects and chanted racist slogans. “There was an estimate that a few dozen people would come – but in reality 300 people came,” a senior police officer told Haaretz.

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