Attorney for Prime Lynching Suspect: This Is a Case of Bullying, Not Racism

After his arrest, the suspect said that as far as he's concerned the victim can die because 'he is an Arab.'

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court yesterday approved a six-day arrest remand extension for three suspects in last Thursday night's alleged lynching incident in Jerusalem. Two of the suspects were arrested yesterday morning, and the third was arrested on Monday. They're accused of being part of a group of Jewish teenagers that attacked three Arabs in Jerusalem.

The teen arrested Monday, A, is the prime suspect in the case. Police say he kicked Jamal Julani in the chest, causing Julani to collapse. "There were some forty people on the scene," A declared yesterday when he was brought to the courtroom. "Everyone was delivering blows."

After his arrest, A had said that as far as he's concerned, "[Julani] can die. He is an Arab. I would have stabbed him if I could. A Jew can't move around the Damascus Gate without being stabbed. Should I seize him, I'll punch him; he cursed my mother, and he should die."

A comes from a town close to Jerusalem, and has, for several years, lived in a facility for at-risk youths in one of the Gush Etzion settlements. The facility, which "serves acutely troubled youths," according to a source, has been linked in the past to other incidents in which residents were accused of racist behavior toward Arabs. In the most notorious case, in 1998, two youths from the institution were accused of beating a Palestinian to death with a wooden board.

A is being represented by the Honenu legal aid organization, whose website says it provides aid to those "who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression." Its clients have included radical right-wing extremists and so-called "hilltop youths." A, 15, has not been identified with hilltop youths, who oppose the evacuation of settler holding outposts. His Facebook page, however, is rife with racist anti-Arab statements.

Along with other suspects in Thursday's incident, A has belonged to groups such as "Oust the Arabs," and "Protect the Heart of the City," an organization whose goal is to protect young Jewish women from provocations by Arab youths. A's lawyer, Itzik Bam, stated yesterday that "this incident was a case of bullying, and not a racist affair, that involved a group of at-risk youths, and they should be rehabilitated. There was nothing ideological at play here."

One of the other suspects whose arrest remand was extended yesterday is T, a 15 year old Jerusalemite. Police indicate that more arrests are expected.

Yuval Ben-Ami