An 18-year-old Israeli man was indicted Sunday for allegedly attacking an Arab in Jerusalem because he believed the man was with a Jewish girlfriend.
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Yehiel Weisenstern was charged in Jerusalem District Court with aggravated assault and committing a racially motivated hate crime.
The accused lives in Modi’in Ilit, a settlement in the West Bank.
In its indictment, the prosecution claimed that the suspect saw the victim, named Mohammed, walking with a female Jewish friend who works with him in the Mahaneh Yehuda market area, downtown Jerusalem. Weisenstern and two people unknown to the authorities allegedly asked Mohammed for a cigarette, to which the victim responded in the negative.
Later, the suspect and two friends started following Mohammed and his female friend. They asked her if she was Jewish. They then asked Mohammed “why he was going out with a Jew,” according to the indictment.
When the victim tried to explain that they worked together, the suspect or one of his friends allegedly took out a knife from his pocket and said to him: “You’re dating Jewish girls. We will **** you today!”
The suspect or one of the others “punched the complainant twice in his shoulder.” The victim stated that he started fleeing the suspect, but the group started chasing after him.
After the complainant stopped fleeing and stood his ground, “The suspect and the others surrounded the complainant and started cursing him, telling him he wouldn’t be allowed to work in the market anymore and that they would screw him,” according to the indictment.
“Immediately afterward, the suspect and the others started beating the complainant with punches and kicks,” it added. “The suspect allegedly punched the complainant, who fell to the ground, and then kicked him twice until a passerby separated them.”
Mohammed suffered injuries to his head, back, stomach and legs.
Weisenstern’s public defender, Idan Gamlieli, said his client is “a youth without a criminal past living under difficult circumstances.”
He added: “The youth cooperated with investigators and gave a detailed account of the sequence of events. He asserts that he was attacked by the complainant and didn’t start the incident and didn’t act from any nationalist or racist motivation.
“We are awaiting receipt of the investigative material, and will respond after we study it,” Gamlieli added.