Prosecutors filed terrorism charges on Sunday against four Jewish men accused of stabbing an Arab man in a Jerusalem market two weeks ago, seriously wounding him.
The victim, 25, was at his place of work — a burger restaurant in the Mahane Yehuda market — when he was stabbed ten times by his assailants. He was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the city, where doctors found that a knife wielded by one of his assailants had torn open his lung and liver.
He was eventually released in good condition. His family did not wish to speak to the press, a spokesperson for the hospital said at the time.
The identities of the stabbing victim’s assailants, who are in their late twenties and early thirties, are under a gag order. Israeli police regularly obtain court orders to bar the publication of suspects’ identity in cases they deem sensitive.
Three of the defendants were arrested by the Shin Bet security service and the police in a joint operation, the Shin Bet said in a statement a week and a half ago. They were afterwards charged with terror and attempted murder. The fourth was charged with terror and deliberate grievous bodily harm.
According to the Ynet news site, the defendants’ lawyer, Adi Kedar expressed skepticism regarding the police account and said they were being treated harshly by their Shin Bet interrogators.
“The story of the act as told by the defendants is radically different from that in the indictment. We know that they were interrogated under very difficult conditions by Shin Bet interrogators, so we will not rush to draw conclusions,” said Kedar, who works for the Honenu legal defense group, which often defends Jewish extremists accused of terrorizing Arab Israelis and Palestinians.
According to prosecutors, three of those charged had met up on Agripas Street in downtown Jerusalem before joining a procession in the direction of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Sheikh Jarrah has seen repeated clashes between Palestinians and police over a series of pending evictions of Palestinian residents in favor of right-wing Jewish nationalists.
“We hope your village burns!” the demonstrators chanted, according to prosecutors. The chant is a common one at gatherings of right-wing Jewish extremists.
The procession joined a large gathering of Jewish nationalists before being stopped forcibly by police on Shimon Hatzadik Street. The participants clashed with cops who were stationed in the area.
After the clashes, the three defendants allegedly headed back downtown. They went to the home of one of them in the Haredi neighborhood of Makor Baruch and changed their clothing in order to avoid detection by police, prosecutors said.
Afterwards, the defendants set out for Mahane Yehuda, where they were joined by the fourth defendant. The victim, who worked at a nearby restaurant, passed by as he went to take out the trash, prosecutors said.
The defendants engaged the man in conversation to determine if he was Arab. After confirming his ethnicity, they shot pepper spray at him and beat him while he sought to escape, according to prosecutors.
One of the defendants then began stabbing the man in the back while the others continued to hit him. Seeing the blood, the fourth defendant fled.
The attack came as Israel saw its worst intercommunal violence in decades, with mobs of Arabs and Jews attacking one another in mixed cities across the country.
That same night in Bat Yam, dozens of Jewish extremists beat Saeed Mousa, an Arab man, nearly to death on live television, with the police nowhere in sight. Three Jewish Israelis were later indicted on several charges, including incitement to terror, in the incident.
In other mixed cities, such as Ramle and Lod, Arab rioters attacked synagogues and torched cars. Arab Israelis also attacked two hotels and a restaurant in Acre. Jewish extremists, some from outside the cities, hurled stones at Arab passersby. Police have made over 2,000 arrests so far in the incidents, the vast majority of them reportedly Arab Israelis.
While the violence has ebbed across the country, a few scattered incidents have continued. On Thursday night, a Jewish mob beat an Arab man in the northern Israeli city of Binyamina, and a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the home of Jewish family in Lod.