Arab Israeli gets 17 years in prison for role in 2021 Acre mob assault of Jewish man

Qusay Abbas also ordered to pay compensation to victim Mor Ganashvili, who suffered life-threatening and permanent injuries; judges say assault was a ‘lynching’

Mor Ganashvili, seriously injured during a mob assault in Acre in May 2021, arrives for a court hearing of one of his attackers at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Mor Ganashvili, seriously injured during a mob assault in Acre in May 2021, arrives for a court hearing of one of his attackers at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, May 17, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Arab Israeli man was sentenced to 17 years behind bars on Monday for his role in the mob assault of a Jewish resident of Acre during the May 2021 riots that left the victim, Mor Ganashvili, with life-threatening and permanent injuries.

Qusay Abbas, 21 — who in July was convicted of attempted murder with a terror motive, in the most serious verdict yet among the nine individuals accused of involvement in the attack — also got a one-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay his victim NIS 180,000 ($48,000).

Ganashvili was beaten with iron bars and other blunt instruments that rendered him unconscious and left him with two brain hemorrhages and internal bleeding, among numerous other injuries.

In its decision, the Haifa District Court wrote that “this incident is nothing short of a lynching, in which a group of rioters including the defendant severely beat up Mor solely due to his being Jewish,” the Ynet outlet reported.

Ganashvili, holding a large Israeli flag, expressed satisfaction with the sentence, “which conveys the message that Jewish blood isn’t cheap.”

Haim Bleicher, Ganashvili’s lawyer from the right-wing Honenu organization, said he had wanted Abbas to receive at least 20 years for his crimes. “Nonetheless, a verdict of 17 years is a significant punishment and shows the seriousness of the acts and we expect justice to be served for the other participants in the lynching,” said Bleicher.

Mor Ganashvili in hospital, soon after he was attacked (courtesy of Mor Ganashvili)

The riots in Acre were part of a series of violent inter-communal disturbances, particularly in mixed Jewish-Arab cities, that took place in the days following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May 2021.

In July, judges at the Haifa District Court unanimously found Abbas guilty of terror charges including attempted murder, throwing rocks at a vehicle, vandalizing a vehicle with a racial motive and rioting.

They rejected the defense’s claim that Ganashvili tried to run down his attacker.

As part of a plea deal in November 2022, the same court ordered Adham Bashir, 24, to pay NIS 150,000 (approximately $43,000) in damages to Ganashvili for his role in the assault.

Bashir, also a resident of the coastal city, confessed to the crime and was convicted on charges of aggravated assault as an act of terror, attempted aggravated assault and rioting.

In February 2022, Acre resident Bilal Hilwani was convicted of egging on the rioters to attack Ganashvili, and in March he was sentenced to a year in prison.

A car burns after being set on fire during riots in Acre, northern Israel, May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)

The attackers were among masked rioters roaming the streets of Acre on the night of May 12, throwing stones and launching fireworks at police officers and destroying public property.

They set up a roadblock using furniture and other objects, which Ganashvili encountered while driving to visit his mother, whom he was worried about due to the ongoing riots.

The rioters pelted Ganashvili’s car, which had Israeli flags on it, with stones and other objects, causing him to lose control and crash into a wall.

Ganashvili was rescued by another Arab resident of Acre, Fadi Qassem, a nurse who gave him first aid treatment and helped save his life before security forces and emergency medical services took him to the hospital.

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