After Widespread Civil Unrest in Israeli Cities, Over 90 Percent of Those Indicted Are Arabs

Most of the 170 people charged to date, mainly over attacks in mixed Jewish-Arab communities, are accused of being motivated by racism ■ In one case in Jaffa, an indictment for attacking a Jew doesn't mention racist motives

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A police patrol car burning in Lod last week.
A police patrol car burning in Lod last week.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Over 90 percent of the Israelis charged with rioting as tensions spilled over in mixed Arab-Jewish cities during the current flare-up in Gaza are Arab.

Of the 170 people charged with such offenses in the past two weeks, 155 were Arabs and only 15 were Jewish. Almost all the offenses of those charged, some of whom are minors, are believed to have been motivated by racism.

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The indictments include charges of rioting, assaulting police officers and damaging property. Many of the indictments were issued for events in which a number of the accused took part.

The courts have been asked to keep most of those charged in custody until the end of legal proceedings against them.

In one case, four Jaffa residents alleged to have beaten a Jewish man last week during rioting in the city were charged on Thursday with aggravated battery, but no racist motives were ascribed to their acts.

Police forces in Jaffa last week.Credit: Moti Milrod

According to the indictment, the four – Muhammad Abu Ramadan and Mahmoud Kraym, both 22; Turk Hikmat, 27; and Rami Lufti, 44 – attacked the unidentified man who had come to document the rioting and caused him injury.

As recounted in the indictment, the four, together with others, identified the man as a Jew as he was walking on the city’s Yefet Street and began asking him questions, such as, “What are you photographing?” and “Why are going around with a baseball bat?” In response, the man asked them questions in English such as, “What are your feelings about the Jewish people?”

Immediately, one of the four began kicking the man and punching him in the head. Others joined in and continued hitting the man until he fell onto the street.

At some stage, the alleged victim dropped his telephone, which was then taken by one of the four. After the alleged attackers fled, the man managed to stand up. But another man approached him and kicked him in the back, causing him to fall a second time onto the street. While the man was lying in the street, the first group returned and took his baseball bat, hit him with it and continued to punch him and beat him with a plastic chair. The man was injured all over his body and required medical attention.

Few indictments against Jews

Since the beginning of the Gaza operation on May 8, over 1,300 suspects have been arrested on suspicion of rioting and acts of violence, including 252 minors. Most of those arrested were Arabs; 159 were Jewish. The courts extended the suspects’ remand in 543 cases.

District prosecutors were criticized early on for not indicting Jews who had allegedly rioted in cities such as Lod, Jaffa, Acre and Be’er Sheva. However, they began issuing such indictments over the past week.

For instance, indictments were submitted to Be’er Sheva District Court against two Jewish city residents who allegedly took part in riots that included throwing stone at vehicles they believed belonged to Arab Israelis.

In another case, a further six Jewish residents of Be’er Sheva were indicted for protesting near the city’s mall last week, where they allegedly threw stones at vehicles they thought belonged to Arabs and shouted “Death to Arabs.”

Two residents of Tiberias were indicted for allegedly taking part in riots and vandalizing a hotel last week. Two indictments were also issued against alleged assailants of a Kan Broadcasting Corporation journalist who was covering a far-right protest in Tel Aviv.

District prosecutors have also continued to issue dozens of indictments against Arabs for vandalizing cars belonging to Jews, committing arson, stone-throwing and assaulting police officers.

Several of these incidents involved dozens of people, but only a small number of the alleged perpetrators were arrested and indicted.

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