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5 from Bedouin town charged over attacks on drivers in May

Shin Bet accuses suspects, apparently all related, of assaulting drivers and setting vehicles on fire

Two of the three cars that were attacked by a number of Bedouin suspects on Route 6, May 11, 2021. (Video screenshot)
Two of the three cars that were attacked by a number of Bedouin suspects on Route 6, May 11, 2021. (Video screenshot)

Five people have been arrested on allegations they attacked drivers in southern Israel during May’s spasm of intercommunal violence, authorities said Monday.

The five are accused of carrying out three “attempted lynchings” on drivers along Route 6 near Lakiya junction, north of Beersheba, on the night of May 11, the Shin Bet security agency said.

The suspects, apparently all relatives from the Bedouin town of Lakiya, were named as Kutsai al-Assad, Hassan al-Assad, Omar al-Assad, and A’al al-Assad; the fifth suspect, a minor, was not named.

In the first incident, the Jewish driver of a vehicle that was attacked with stones was rescued by a passing truck driver. Her vehicle was then set on fire, according to the Shin Bet.

In the second attack, a Thai foreign worker was pelted with stones while driving in the area. After stopping his vehicle, the suspects forced the man out and violently assaulted him before setting his vehicle on fire, the security service said.

The driver was released by the suspects only after they realized he was not Jewish, the Shin Bet charged. He required hospitalization for his injuries.

In the third incident, the Jewish driver of a vehicle that was stoned was almost pulled out of his car by the suspects, but was rescued by police forces who arrived at the scene. He was also taken for medical treatment at the time, the Shin Bet said.

The Shin Bet said prosecutors filed an indictment against the five individuals at the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court, charging them with “serious offenses.”

But it did not detail what the specific charges were or when the arrests took place.

Earlier this month, 12 others were arrested for similar offenses, near the Bedouin city of Rahat and the town of  Kuseife in southern Israel. Police said those suspects threw rocks at passing cars and blocked roads with burning tires during protests that took place at the same time as the 11-day flareup of violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

On May 10-21 Israel fought against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. In response to thousands of rockets fired by the Palestinian terror group at Israeli cities, the IDF carried out hundreds of bombing raids on Hamas targets in the coastal enclave.

The escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas sparked mass unrest in mixed Arab-Jewish locales in Israel.

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