Brothers Convicted of Planning to Block Road to Protest Gaza Pullout

Mordechai and Elitzur Levinstein planned to set vehicles alight on Tel Aviv's Ayalon Freeway.

Tel Aviv District Court convicted two brothers Wednesday who planned to block traffic on Tel Aviv's main Ayalon Freeway by setting vehicles on fire, all in protest of the government's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Mordechai and Elitzur Levinstein, former residents of the now-defunct settlements of Yitzhar and Homesh, were convicted of willful attempted endangerment on a public highway, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and tampering with evidence. Mordechai Levinstein was also found guilty of unlawfully changing a vehicle license plate.

The indictment alleges that the Levinsteins drove two commercial vehicles to a street adjacent to the Kibbutz Galuyot junction off the Ayalon Freeway. With the help of their acquaintance, Avraham Levkovich, they loaded the vehicles with flammable objects.

The next day, the three men met the next morning to plan the precise location the vehicles were to be placed so as to block traffic on the freeway. They also attached forged license plates onto the vehicles and attempted to remove all traces of fingerprints by using rubber gloves.

The three men proceeded to load a mattress and tires, soaked with flammable liquids, into one of the vehicles. However, technical difficulties prevented the drivers from starting the ignition. It was at this point that police arrested Elitzur Levinstein and Levkovich, who was tried separately from the two brothers.

Judge George Kara ruled that the brothers are to be detained until a sentence is handed down, though their attorney requested a 24-hour continuance so that an appeal could be filed with the Supreme Court.

The court also ruled that each of the two brothers is to post NIS 50,000 bond and their passports. Both men are also required to remain in the country until the appeals process has been fully exhausted.