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Manslaughter charge for teen in attack on Arab driver who then fatally hit man

Indictment alleges suspect was part of a group who assaulted Arab drivers in ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood on Purim

Police at the scene where a man was injured after being hit by a car in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem on February 28, 2021 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Police at the scene where a man was injured after being hit by a car in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem on February 28, 2021 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

A 17-year-old boy in Jerusalem was charged Sunday with reckless manslaughter for allegedly attacking an Arab minibus driver who, in trying to flee, proceeded to ram into and kill a protester.

Jerusalem district prosecutors asked the court that the suspect, who was not named, be kept in custody until the end of legal proceedings.

According to the indictment, the teen was among dozens of people who blocked roads and threw rocks, bottles and other objects at Arab drivers in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim on Purim, at the end of February. The group also allegedly struck police vehicles.

The suspect was accused of throwing rocks at a minibus driven by Ibrahim Hamed and opening the door of the vehicle as others shouted “Arab, Arab” and “we’ll kill him.” As he attempted to flee the assault, Hamed plowed his vehicle into Itamar Ben Abu, 47, killing him.

Itamar Ben Abu, 47, was killed after a driver plowed into a crowd in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood on February 28, 2021. (courtesy)

After Hamed crashed, the suspect and others entered the minibus and began attacking him, the indictment alleged, but he was able to flee on foot.

Along with reckless manslaughter, the teen was also charged with participating in a riot, throwing a rock or other object at a car and other offenses.

Several other suspects have been indicted in the case, as has Hamed, who is facing manslaughter charges despite apparently being a victim of racially motivated violence himself. Security camera footage showed him fleeing into a store after the incident and pleading for help.

Hebrew media reported earlier this month that prosecutors are expected to drop the charges against Hamed.

Graphic video from the scene showed a raucous crowd surrounding Hamed’s white minibus, which lurched forward suddenly with one door half-open, slamming Ben Abu into another vehicle and crushing him against it.

Ibrahim Hamed, the driver accused of running over a man on February 28 in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for a court hearing on March 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A sign under the minibus’s windshield appeared to identify it as a medical vehicle in the service of a hospital. Footage before the incident appeared to show another ambulance surrounded by members of the crowd who were throwing stones and attacking the vehicle.

Ben Abu’s family have said that they do not blame Hamed for the death, but rather the rioters. They also said their relative had not been part of the mob and had been trying to calm the situation.

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