Police on Thursday arrested a third suspect in a stabbing last Friday in Tel Aviv that left an LGBT teen from the Arab town of Tamra seriously wounded.
The two main suspects, who presented themselves to police on Tuesday after four days on the run, are the 16-year-old victim’s brothers.
The brothers have, however, denied any connection to the attack, which took place outside the Beit Dror shelter for LGBT youth in central Tel Aviv.
The third suspect, identified as a 24-year-old friend of the two brothers, also from Tamra, was arrested in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi.
The man played a “central role” in the attack, investigators told Hebrew-language media.
A court-imposed gag order on the case prevents the publication of more details, but Hebrew media have already reported that the youth had moved to Tel Aviv to escape family pressures to adopt a religious lifestyle.
Security camera footage showed one of the suspects stabbing the boy several times before getting into a car and fleeing the scene.
According to Beit Dror staff, the teenager identified the assailant as his brother before he collapsed to the ground.
Doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said Sunday that they had managed to stabilize the youth’s condition, which was upgraded to moderate, after he underwent surgery.
Police have placed round-the-clock protection outside the youth’s hospital room, and family members, including the boy’s mother, have complained that they are being prevented from seeing him.
In a statement to Channel 12 on Thursday, police acknowledged that they were limiting visits by the family, but insisted that the mother had been allowed into the hospital room accompanied by officers, saying that the added protection was “a necessity in these circumstances.”
Nearly 1,000 people marched in Tel Aviv on Sunday night to denounce violence against the LGBT community, in the wake of the suspected hate crime.
The stabbing was also condemned as a hate crime by Arab lawmakers.
“We can’t accept any type of violence in our society, definitely not hate crimes,” Hadash party leader Ayman Odeh wrote on Twitter. “The struggle against violence and crime in our community has reached the level of emergency, and is our top priority.”
In February, the LGBT rights organization Aguda released a report that found a 54 percent jump in the number of reported homophobic incidents between 2017 and 2018.