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Police can’t find suspect in arson that killed Acre hotel guest

Seven Arab residents of the city have been indicted for setting fire to the Efendi Hotel, where Aby Har-Even was killed in May, but none are charged with causing his death

A car is set on fire during clashes between Arab and Jews in Acre, northern Israel, May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)
A car is set on fire during clashes between Arab and Jews in Acre, northern Israel, May 12, 2021. (Roni Ofer/Flash90)

Seven individuals were charged with arson for setting fire to a hotel in Acre during fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May, but not with causing the death of a guest inside the hotel, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

Multiple Arab residents of Acre allegedly set fire to the famed Efendi Hotel in the city amid rioting during the 11-day conflict. Aby Har-Even, a former leader of Israel’s space program and a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize, was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering from burns and smoke inhalation while staying in the hotel.

Several weeks later, Har-Even, 84, succumbed to his wounds in the hospital.

According to Sunday’s report, the Haifa District Attorney’s Office issued an indictment on June 1 against seven individuals allegedly involved in starting the fire, but none of them were considered responsible for causing the death of Har-Even.

The indictment had been kept under a gag order until Haaretz issued a request to reveal most of its details — something the prosecutors opposed because, they said, the investigation was still ongoing.

Despite an extensive investigation into the fire, police appear to still not have located multiple suspects who were involved.

Aby Har-Even, a former head of the Israel Space Institute, during a lecture at Bar-Ilan University, in February 2013. (Screen capture/YouTube)

According to the indictment, seven Arab Israelis arrived at the Efendi Hotel on May 11 “with the knowledge that it was owned by Jews, motivated by racism in order to sow destruction.”

One threw a Molotov cocktail into the hotel and caused a fire in the lobby that was put out after several minutes.

The seven indicted suspects then entered the hotel and destroyed furniture, equipment, dishes and security cameras. But none of those individuals are believed to have set the fire that killed Har-Even in a different area of the hotel.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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