An Arab-Israeli man accused of carrying out a pair of deadly shooting attacks in the northern city of Haifa in January reportedly punched an Israel Prisons Service guard during a court hearing on Sunday.
According to Channel 2, after Muhammad Shinawi struck the guard from the prison services Nahshon unit, he was tackled by several officers and removed from the Haifa District Court.
Despite being restrained by the officers, Shinawi continued to try and hit the guards, the TV report said. An unnamed witness to the incident told Channel 2 that Shinawi also urged onlookers to help him fight the guards, including after he had been removed from the courtroom.
Shinawi’s lawyer Alaa Suleiman told Channel 2 that although his client first struck the guard, the officers continued to beat him even after he was subdued.
“Although my client did attack the IPS guards, and even punched one of them, after they had subdued him in front of the judges they continued to hit him, even after he was removed outside,” he said.
“They needed to stop these theatrics from the moment they restrained him,” he added.
Channel 2 noted that Shinawi’s girlfriend was in the courtroom during the incident. At the time of his arrest in January, the Shin Bet security agency said that Shinawi was motivated to carry out the two shooting attacks — which left one Israeli man dead and another seriously wounded — after she called him a “Zionist Jew” and a “Jew lover.”
The 21-year-old Shinawi has been charged with murder and attempted murder for the attacks. Two other men are also accused of helping him. Channel 2 reported that Shinawi denied the charges against him during Sunday’s hearing.
Yehiel Iluz, 48, a senior judge on a Haifa rabbinic conversion court, was wounded at 9:30 a.m. on January 3, in the first shooting on the city’s Haatzma’ut Road. A few minutes later, the shooter opened fire at a Jewish woman, but missed. And a few minutes after that, Guy Kafri, 47, a van driver from Haifa’s Nesher neighborhood, was shot and killed on the nearby Hagiborim Street.
Shinawi was caught several days later after a large manhunt.
During his interrogation, Shinawi said he carried out the attacks “out of a nationalist motivation and hatred of Jews,” the Shin Bet said in January.
After the attack, Shinawi allegedly hid the Carlo-style submachine gun — an illegal, cheap improvised firearm — used in the attack, along with other belongings, in a grove near his parents’ house, the Shin Bet said.
According to the Shin Bet, before the attacks, Shinawi adopted more radical Islamic beliefs, considering Jews to be “unbelievers whose judgment is death.”
The “catalyst” for the attack, the Shin Bet said, was Shinawi’s girlfriend calling him “Jew lover” and “Zionist Jew.”
First reports indicated a case of mistaken identity in a possible gangland shooting, but as the investigation went on, police increasingly began to suspect it was a terror attack.
At the time, neighbors and local residents expressed surprise that Shinawi was suspected of carrying out the attacks.
Rafat Asadi, a lawyer who lives in Shinawi’s neighborhood, told Ynet that he was surprised by the identity of the suspect, “an honors student” who comes from a “completely normal family, an exemplary family, that has had no run-ins with the law.”
The Shin Bet said Shinawi set fire to a Jewish family’s car during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.