The Shin Bet domestic security service and the Israel Police arrested six Israelis from Beersheba on suspicion of violently attacking Arabs in the southern Israeli city, the Shin Bet said Sunday. It did not say when the arrests took place.
According to a Shin Bet statement, the attacks began in December, with the suspects using weapons such as knifes, batons and crowbars to carry out their attacks.
The Shin Bet said the most violent incident carried out by the suspects was a stabbing attack in February.
Following their arrest, the suspects were questioned by the Shin Bet and police.
The Shin Bet said that the interrogations tied the suspects to at least five attacks against Arabs, as well as the vandalizing of an Arab man’s car. The investigation also uncovered a number of weapons allegedly used in the attacks, including switchblades, clubs and crowbars.
The suspects were said to have carried out the attacks due to nationalistic and racist motives and “in order to prevent the miscegenation of Jewish girls and Arabs in Beersheba.” A number of them were said to have watched a video from the far-right anti-assimilation group Lehava on “rescuing a Jewish girl who married an Arab.”
The Shin Bet also said that the suspects took a number of measures prior to their attacks to ensure that their victims were Arabs.
Lawyers for the suspects, which the Shin Bet said include two soldiers and a minor, told the national-religious Srugim website that their clients were tortured during their interrogations and denied access to their attorneys. They said one of the suspects attempted to kill himself.
The Shin Bet said that indictments compiled by the Southern District State Attorney’s Office against the suspects have been filed, including charges of “acts of terror.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan condemned the alleged attacks, saying that they would be dealt “severely.”
“Hate crimes are among the most grave of crimes and we need to battle them — whether they are [perpetrated by] Jews or Arabs. There is no place for racial hatred and violence. These phenomena will be met with a strong hand from law enforcement authorities, as required by the severity of the acts,” he said in a statement that also condemned a settler rock-throwing attack against soldiers over the weekend.