Seven suspects have been indicted for carrying out an arson attack on a bicycle store in the Arab Israeli town of Taibe in October after the owner donated bicycles to Jewish children, the Israel Police said in a joint statement with the Shin Bet on Tuesday.
In the early hours of the morning on October 14, the bicycle store owned by Alaa Amara was looted and torched after he donated some 50 bicycles to children evacuated from Gaza border communities after the deadly Hamas onslaught on October 7.
The police investigation into the attack determined it to have been “carried out on an ideological-nationalist basis,” the statement said, adding that in the case of one of the suspects, the arson is being treated as “an act of terrorism.”
The charges brought against the suspects involved in the affair include the charges of breaking and entering, theft, possessing, carrying and firing a weapon, and desecrating a flag.
Speaking to The Times of Israel after the attack, Amara said he had noticed that the evacuated children had nothing to do in the early days of the war, so he decided to donate the bicycles at no cost to the recipients.
“I did it to benefit the children. They don’t know about war,” he said at the time.
Just two days later, a group of people broke into the store at around 2 a.m., stealing and looting before setting the store on fire.
“They were armed and shot out the cameras. Some wore masks… the damage is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of shekels,” Amara’s wife told Walla News after the attack.
While nobody was harmed during the incident, Amara later learned that the perpetrators had tried to lure him into the store in order to attack him. “They wanted to lynch me,” he said.
As Amara didn’t have fire insurance for his store at the time of the attack, he estimated that the total cost of the damage would amount to NIS 800,000. Several crowdfunding efforts were set up to ease the burden of the cost, and one effort alone has raised NIS 751,427 since it was established.
Gavriel Fiske contributed to this report.