ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Suspect charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting Israeli near Times Square

Indictment filed by Manhattan DA says Yehia Amin harassed group of Jewish men, telling them ‘Hamas should kill more of you’ before eventually striking one of them

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Police separate Israel supporters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Times Square, New York City, October 13, 2023. (Luke Tress via New York Jewish Week via JTA)
Police separate Israel supporters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Times Square, New York City, October 13, 2023. (Luke Tress via New York Jewish Week via JTA)

New York Jewish Week via JTA — The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office indicted a suspect on hate crimes charges for allegedly attacking an Israeli tourist near Times Square on October 18.

The indictment, filed Tuesday, came as the NYPD released hate crimes statistics showing a sustained surge in antisemitic incidents since Hamas’s October 7 murderous assault on Israel.

According to the indictment, in the Times Square incident 11 days after the Hamas attack, defendant Yehia Amin, 28, allegedly stalked and punched a 23-year-old Jewish Israeli who was walking with four friends at around 9:30 p.m. The Jewish men were all wearing kippahs when they passed by Amin, who recognized them as Jewish and began to pursue them.

Amin taunted the group, telling them, “Hamas should kill more of you,” “May Allah kill all the Jews,” and “All Jews should die,” according to the District Attorney’s Office. While Amin pursued the Israelis, he blasted music from his bluetooth speaker that he later described as “Hamas music.

The Jewish group tried to report Amin to a security guard, then headed to a train station to leave Times Square, but Amin continued following them, saying, “All Jews are crybabies,” and “I want to kill you for Gaza,” the indictment says. After around 10 minutes of harassment, Amin ran up behind the victim and punched him in the back of the head, causing substantial pain and minor injuries.

Amin fled the scene and the Israeli tourist and his friends followed him. A police officer joined the pursuit, caught Amin, and arrested him. While under arrest, Amin continued to shout antisemitic statements, including, “God kill all the Jewish people,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

Amin was charged with stalking in the first degree as a hate crime; assault in the third degree as a hate crime; and stalking in the third degree as a hate crime. He was also indicted for one count of aggravated harassment in the second degree. The case is being handled by the New York State Supreme Court.

“Violence stemming from hate and discrimination will not be tolerated,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement announcing the charges.

This is the latest of a few indictments from Bragg’s office for anti-Jewish hate crimes. Late last month, two women were charged after allegedly attacking a passerby who confronted them while they were tearing down posters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza. The week after the war started, a 19-year-old was charged for attacking an Israeli on the Columbia University campus.

Also Tuesday, the NYPD released hate crimes data for last month, indicating that a previously documented surge in antisemitic crimes in the city since October 7 has continued.

There were 62 antisemitic hate crimes reported to police in November, averaging more than two incidents per day. The figure for antisemitic incidents last month represented a 32% increase over the same period last year, and was similar to the 69 antisemitic attacks reported in October. Anti-Jewish incidents made up 65% of all hate crimes reported to police last month. There were seven anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Since January 1, there have been 294 anti-Jewish hate crimes, according to the NYPD. During the first 11 months of last year, when the total number of hate crimes against all groups were higher, there were 253 antisemitic incidents. Jewish security groups have said many antisemitic attacks likely go unreported. Recent incidents have included graffiti, physical assaults and threats. Jewish groups have also reported a spike in antisemitism nationally since October 7.

Before the outbreak of the war, the previous high-water mark for antisemitic incidents this year was in March, which saw 32 antisemitic incidents reported to police.

War erupted between Israel and Hamas after the Hamas-led October 7 massacres, in which some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 360 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 16,000 people, most of them women and children. Those figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both Hamas terrorists and civilians, and people killed as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. According to military estimates, some 5,000 Hamas members have been killed in the Gaza Strip, in addition to more than 1,000 terrorists killed in Israel during the October 7 onslaught. Approximately two civilians have been killed for every dead Hamas fighter in the Gaza Strip, senior Israeli military officials said on December 4.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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