Attackers get 2.5 years in jail for torching Palestinian cars

Yehuda Landsberg and Yehuda Savir confessed to taking part in ‘price tag’ hate crime assault last year

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a vehicle that was allegedly torched by Israeli settlers in a 'price tag' attack, June 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a vehicle that was allegedly torched by Israeli settlers in a 'price tag' attack, June 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two Jewish settlers were sentenced Sunday to 30 months in prison and a year on probation for torching several vehicles belonging to Palestinians in a northern West Bank village last year.

The Lod District Court deemed the arson a “price tag” hate crime attack and further ordered the perpetrators of the act to pay NIS 15,000 (about $3,816) as compensation to the owner of one of the ignited vehicles.

The sentence was the lengthiest ever to be given to individuals convicted of carrying out a price tag attack against Palestinians.

Yehuda Landsberg and Yehuda Savir, both residents of the illegal Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank, attempted to set fire to a construction site in the nearby Palestinian village of Madama in November 2013.

The two, who were allegedly joined by a third accomplice, Binyamin Richter, later went on to set two cars in the Palestinian village of Farata ablaze and spray-paint Stars of David on walls at the site.

According to a statement from the Shin Bet earlier this year, an investigation into the incident revealed that three far-right activists sought to advance their ideological goals “at the cost of casting fear over government decisions and sowing terror among the Palestinian population.”

Savir and Landsberg were arrested and indicted in February for their roll in the attack and later confessed to the crime as part of a plea bargain, according to the Walla news site.

Richter, who throughout his interrogation denied taking part in the attack, is expected to be handed a sentence later this week, the far-right leaning Hakol Hayehudi website reported.

Earlier Sunday, four anti-assimilation activists affiliated with the Lehava organization were arrested on suspicion of incitement to violence, and four others were brought in for questioning. The arrests came five days after the organization’s leader, Bentzi Gopshtain, and 10 other activists were arrested as police began a crackdown on the right-wing organization.

Lehava chairman Benzi Gopstein is brought to the Jerusalem's Magistrates Court in Jerusalem on December 16, 2014, (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, December 16, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police raided the offices of Lehava last Wednesday night, confiscating computers and other equipment in the wake of allegations that the extremist group was involved in an arson attack against an Arab-Jewish school.

Last week, three Lehava members were formally charged in the arson and vandalism attack last month on Jerusalem’s Max Rayne Hand in Hand School school, after having confessed to committing the crime during questioning. Security officials said that the suspects, Yitzhak Gabai, 22, and brothers Shlomo and Nahman Twitto, aged 20 and 18 respectively, admitted to torching the Jewish-Arab school because of anti-assimilation ideology.

In a separate incident, five Jewish youths — four of them minors — were picked up in a park in Jerusalem overnight carrying two commando knives and a screwdriver as they were collecting stones to attack Arabs, police said.

Times of Israel Staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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