Two Israelis Sentenced to Year in Prison for Racially-motivated Assault on Arabs

The residents of Be'er Sheva were part of an organized group that attacked Arabs in order to deter them from dating Jewish women

Suspects at the Be'er Sheva District Court, 2017.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Two Israeli residents of Be'er Sheva were convicted of racially-motivated assault against Arabs and sentenced to one year in prison on Tuesday. 

Koren Elkayam, 22, and Tamir Bartal, 20, were convicted in a plea bargain of assaulting Arabs in order to deter them from having romantic relationships with Jewish women. In addition, Elkayam and Bartal were sentenced to eight months of probation and required to pay the victims 8,000 shekels ($2,200) in compensation.

Elkayam and Bartal were convicted of involvement in four different cases, between February and April 2017. Bartal took part in the actual assaults, whereas Elkayam participated as a driver.

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The charges agreed upon in the plea bargain are aiding an attempt at aggravated assault, intentional sabotage of a vehicle, suspicious circumstances regarding intention to break and enter, and vehicle assistance to commit a crime – all of which were racially motivated. The original charges were more serious, including allegations of terrorist crimes.

Judges at the Be'er Sheva District Court wrote in the verdict: "Considering the fragile relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, these crimes are potentially explosive and destructive to social cohesion, without which this country cannot exist in peace and prosperity." They wrote that the sentence was relatively light, because Elkayam and Bartal were 20 and 18 years old respectively at the time.

In November, the man considered head of the organized group, Raz Amitzur, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for stabbing and beating up victims. Three others were sentenced to community service and criminal charges against them were dismissed.