Safed Court Indicts 19-year-old and Minor in Torching Arabs' Cars

The youths allegedly wrapped the tires of two cars belonging to Arabs and set them alight, spray-painting anti-Arab slurs on public property; the arson was allegedly in response to the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar.

The Safed district court issued an indictment Thursday against two young adults charged with torching the cars of Arab students two weeks ago as a response to the murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.

Earlier this month a terrorist broke into the home of the Fogel family on a Friday night, stabbing and killing father and mother Udi Fogel, 37 and Ruth Fogel, 36, and their children Yoav Fogel, 10, four-year-old Elad Fogel, and three-month-old Hadas Fogel.

Car Safed - Yaron Kaminsky
Yaron Kaminsky

The suspects in the arson, Yonatan Iloz, a 19-year-old from and a minor, both Safed residents, are accused of intentionally causing damage to a vehicle. A third suspect was arrested as well, but subsequently released.

Two cars were set alight last week in the Safed College student dormitory parking lot earlier this month. A third car, which was parked next to them, was damaged by the flames. Both of the cars belonging to the Arab students had bumper stickers on them revealing their owners' religions, one of whom is Christian and the other Muslim.

The arrest of the two young men was initially under a full gag order that was partially lifted last week after Safed Magistrate's Court judge Saab Dabur responded to a request made by Haaretz to release to the public the information that three suspects were arrested the day after the incident took place.

According to the indictment, after the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar the youths went on a vandalizing rampage, spray-painting "Death to the Arabs", "Revenge", "Price tag", "Kahane was right", and other anti-Arab statements in Safed.

The last slur was in reference to the founder of the banned extreme right Kach party, Rabbi Meir Kahane. The rabbi was best known for his controversial stance vis-à-vis Israel's Arabs, advocating for their transfer. Kahane was assassinated in 1990.

The indictment also states that the two suspects took a bottle, lighter fluid and bits of fabric and arrived at the Safed College dormitories. They covered the wheels of two cars belonging to Arab students with cloth doused in lighter fluid and set them alight.

The arson took place shortly after a college event meant to promote dialogue between Jews and Arabs led to heated arguments between the two groups of students.

Ali Naami, the Muslim owner of one of the cars which was set on fire, said that an intense debate broke out at the student event on Tuesday which preceded the arson.

According to Naami, "over the course of the event, a heated discussion broke out between the Jews and the Arabs, over the course of which someone yelled at us that the State of Israel is the Jewish state meant for Jews – and we, as Arabs, do not have a place in it."

Naami said that he and his friends from class, among them Jews, protested these statements. "There was a lot of anger," he added, "these kinds of things cannot be allowed to be said."