Arab suspects in a mob-beating of a Jewish man in the port city of Jaffa have been charged with assault but not with racism or hate crimes, Hebrew media reported Sunday.
The four suspects who have so far been arrested in the case were charged on Friday with aggravated assault and causing bodily harm, as well as for the theft of the victim’s phone, but the indictments do not include any mention of offenses related to racism.
The victim, who has not been named in media reports, told Channel 12 news he has no doubt that it was a racist assault against him for being Jewish and that there were nationalist motives, suggesting the attack should be considered an act of terrorism.
“It was all loaded with racist motives,” the victim, who required hospital treatment and is still suffering from his injuries, said. “Without a doubt, it was a nationalist incident, I was the only Jew in the street at the time.”
He said that in the moments before the assault, the attacking youths had shouted at him to leave and “other curses about the whole matter of the Jewish people.”
Despite what happened, the man insisted that “there are pockets of coexistence in Jaffa” and that is something he doesn’t want to see taken from the city.
The incident happened on May 10 during a period of violent clashes between Jews and Arabs in various locations around the country, including Jaffa, which has a mixed Jewish and Arab population.
At around 10.30 p.m. the victim, a resident of the city, was walking along Yefet Street with a baseball bat on his back and filming unrest by Arabs.
Channel 12 news reported he said he was carrying the bat for self-defense.
He was set upon by 10-12 Arab youths who knocked him to the floor, then assaulted him with kicks and punches. When he tried to defend himself with the bat, they seized it from his grasp and attacked him with it instead. One assailant also smashed a plastic chair over the man as he lay in the road. Only after the assault had continued for a few minutes did police arrive to chase away the mob.
A video of the incident was broadcast by Hebrew media on Sunday.
תיעוד: הלינץ' ביהודי ביפו שלא שמעתם עליו.
פורעים ערבים מיפו עשו לינץ' אכזרי ביהודי שהסתובב עם הכלב שלו ותיעד את הפרעות.
— לירן לוי Liran Levi (@liran__levi) May 23, 2021
The state prosecution said in a statement Sunday that evidence shows the victim was not wearing anything that indicated he is Jewish and that the attackers spoke to him in English, not Hebrew, and were apparently angry at him for filming them.
“Therefore it was decided that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was carried out for racist reasons,” the statement said.
The prosecution noted that “this does not diminish from the seriousness of the offenses or the charges.”
“In order to attribute a racist motive, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the main and dominant motive for the commission of the offense was a motive of racism,” the statement said. “It is not enough that the racist motive constituted an ancillary circumstance to the acts, but it should be the dominant motive.”
Prosecutors said that so far 140 indictments against 230 defendants have been filed across the country in the wake of the ethnic rioting by Jews and Arabs, the Kan public broadcaster reported, citing a prosecution statement. Some of those charged are minors.
Charges have included assaulting police officers in aggravated circumstances, endangering human life on a public thoroughfare, participating in riots, throwing rocks, disorderly conduct in a public place, arson, and interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties.
“In cases where there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, a racist motive was attributed to the defendants for committing the acts,” the prosecution said. Against most of the defendants, a request was made to extend their detention until the end of the proceedings.
Channel 12 news reported Sunday that only 10% of those arrested in connection with the unrest are Jewish, while the vast majority are Arabs.
The network said police have made 1,552 arrests over the riots, of whom 1,039 have since been released.
Only 168 of them are Jews, showing that either the violence was primarily carried out by Arabs — or, alternatively, that police are more likely to arrest Arab suspects.
The rioting between the two communities has largely faded away although simmering tensions remain in many areas.