'Shocked' Judge Jails Neo-Nazi Youths

The Tel Aviv District Court has sentenced eight neo-Nazi gang members, who were exposed last year in Petah Tikva, to one to seven years in prison.

The gang perpetrated racially motivated attacks on foreign workers, the homeless and Orthodox Jews.

Judge Zvi Gurfinkel yesterday called the crimes "shocking and horrifying."

The gang members, aged 17 to 20, were convicted, among other offenses, of attacking a drug addict near the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv - forcing him to kneel and beg forgiveness for being Jewish - and breaking a beer bottle over the head of a foreign worker. The group videotaped the attacks, interspersing the footage with Nazi salutes, and posted it on the Internet on YouTube and Gormat 18, a Neo-Nazi Web site.

The indictment details e-mails between the gang's ringleader, Arik Boniatov and others; The e-mails discussed "action against Arabs," a ceremony for Hitler's birthday and obtaining a copy of "Mein Kampf."

The gang members were convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, racially motivated attacks and incitement.

Boniatov was sentenced to seven years in jail; Ilya Bondaranko to five years; Vladimir Nitzaventzov to four years; Kyril Balenkov, Alex Flich and a minor, three years each; and another minor, one year. All were also given an 18-month suspended sentence. One of the minors said at the end of the trial: "I am going to live with this my whole life. My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. She just doesn't believe it." Another minor said, "Of course, I'm sorry. There's no one in this case who isn't sorry."

The court sentenced a third minor to 26 months out of the 30 demanded by the prosecution, after the minor agreed to forgo one-third off his sentence for good behavior, so he can be part of a Prisons Service-Israel Defense Forces project allowing five prisoners who are minors to serve in the army. To be part of the program, he has to be in jail when he is called up, in November 2009.