Supreme Court ups sentence for Jewish-Arab school arsonists
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Supreme Court ups sentence for Jewish-Arab school arsonists

Justices add eight months of prison time for brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twitto after state appeals lenient term

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Nachman Tuito, member of the right-wing Lehava organization seen outside the courtroom of the District Court in Jerusalem, July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Nachman Tuito, member of the right-wing Lehava organization seen outside the courtroom of the District Court in Jerusalem, July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Supreme Court on Sunday increased by eight months each of the prison sentences of two brothers convicted of setting fire to a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem.

Nahman Twitto, 18, will serve 38 months and his brother, 20-year-old Shlomo Twitto, 32 months for the November 2014 arson attack on the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school.

The decision came in response to a state appeal of the more lenient sentence handed down last July following a plea bargain. The brothers were also required to pay the school NIS 25,000 ($6,450) in compensation.

“Their actions were liable to increase tensions and fan the flames of hatred. They sow fear and insecurity among the public, and damage the values of patience, equality, and coexistence,” Judge Tzvi Zilbertal said in the court’s decision.

Shlomo Twitto (c) outside the District Court in Jerusalem on July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shlomo Twitto (c) outside the District Court in Jerusalem on July 22, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In September, the Jerusalem District Court found a third suspect, Yitzhak Gabai, 22, guilty on separate counts of arson, carrying an illegal weapon, and incitement to violence on social media. He was sentenced to three years after rejecting the plea deal signed by the Twittos.

In addition to starting the fire at the school, Gabai and the Twitto brothers spray-painted racist messages — such as “There is no coexistence with cancer” and “Death to the Arabs” — on the walls of the institution.

The act drew condemnation from politicians across the board, and hundreds rallied in support of the school in the days following the attack.

The trio were activists in the Lehava organization, which, inspired by the teachings of the late far-right rabbi Meir Kahane, aims to prevent coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Lehava has been denounced by President Reuven Rivlin, who described the group’s actions as akin to “rodents gnawing under the shared democratic and Jewish foundation of Israel.”

Inside the Max Rayne Hand In Hand Jerusalem School, an Arab-Jewish school that was vandalized on November 28, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/JTA)
Inside the Max Rayne Hand In Hand Jerusalem School, an Arab-Jewish school that was vandalized on November 28, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/JTA)

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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