Arab man charged with attempted murder over Acre stoning

Habib Abu Habib, 41, accused of throwing a rock at Mordechai Katz’s head from close range on May 12; in separate case, terror suspect arrested south of Haifa

A car is set on fire during clashes between Arabs and Jews in Acre, northern Israel, on May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)
A car is set on fire during clashes between Arabs and Jews in Acre, northern Israel, on May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)

An Acre man has been indicted on charges of attempted murder and terrorism for his alleged role in violent rioting in the city last month.

Habib Abu Habib, 41, is accused of throwing a stone at Mordechai Katz’s head from only a few feet away on the night of May 12, knocking him to the ground. Katz was also kicked and stoned before he was rescued by locals and a police official who fired his gun into the air.

Prosecutors said Monday that Abu Habib was caught on video picking up the stone in the street, running at Katz and throwing it at him.

He is also accused of taking part in the stoning of the car of another man in the city later that night.

The rioting came amid intense ethnic violence that rocked Israeli cities for several days during the Operation Guardian of the Walls conflict in Gaza.

Separately on Monday, a man suspected of being involved in unspecified terrorist activities was arrested on the side of the highway south of Haifa.

The Shin Bet security service confirmed that the man, who was stopped by police, has been handed over to their custody for questioning. It is not immediately clear what the man is suspected of having done or planning to do.

Video footage from the scene showed the man being handcuffed and blindfolded by uniformed and plainclothes police officers.

On Sunday, six Arab Israeli and two Palestinian men were arrested in connection with the murder of Yigal Yehoshua in a rock-throwing attack on his car, during violent riots in the central Israeli city of Lod last month, Israeli law enforcement bodies announced, calling the incident a “racist and nationalistic” crime.

Seven of the men stand accused of the murder, while the eighth will face charges for other rock-throwing attacks in the city and for attempting to obstruct the murder investigation, a Shin Bet spokesperson said.

On Sunday, prosecutors in Israel’s Central District filed their intentions to indict the seven murder suspects, requesting that the men be kept in jail through the criminal proceedings.

The deadly attack that killed Yehoshua, a 56-year-old resident of Lod, occurred amid heavy rioting, which saw multiple cases of assault against Jewish residents of the city by Arab Israelis and, to a lesser extent, vice versa.

Yigal Yehoshua, 56, died after being struck in the head with a brick while driving home in Lod. (Courtesy)

According to the investigation, several of the suspects — including the eighth man, Muhammad Hassouna, 33 — are believed to have attempted to delete security camera footage from the area that showed their involvement in the attack.

“The investigation also found that some of the suspects were involved in other cases of severe rock-throwing events in Lod against Jews,” the Shin Bet said.

Last month saw massive riots break out in many so-called mixed Israeli cities, those home to large numbers of both Arabs and Jews. Though not unprecedented, the internecine violence was some of the worst in Israel’s history, bringing to the surface long-simmering conflicts between Arab and Jewish Israelis.

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