Police arrest five teen suspects in brutal Jerusalem assault

The victim, a 17-year-old Arab resident of East Jerusalem, awoke from his coma on Saturday; cousin said attackers were ‘all Jewish’

17-year-old Jamal Julani is visited by his mother at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital after being attacked by Jewish youths in downtown Jerusalem. (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
17-year-old Jamal Julani is visited by his mother at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital after being attacked by Jewish youths in downtown Jerusalem. (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)

Police arrested three minors on Sunday afternoon and a fourth on Sunday evening on suspicion of involvement in an incident Thursday night when dozens of Jewish teens ganged up on a few Arab youths in downtown Jerusalem, seriously injuring one — 17-year-old Jamal Julani of East Jerusalem.

The four arrested on Sunday, three boys aged 17, 15 and 13 and a 15-year-old girl, were set to appear in Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court on Monday for a remand hearing.

Police had already arrested a 19-year-old on Saturday on suspicion of assaulting Julani. The suspect, whose name was not released, appeared before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday and his detention was extended by four days.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio on Sunday that he strongly condemned Thursday’s incident, but cautioned against jumping to early conclusions about the motive of the attack.

“The police are thoroughly investigating the circumstances (behind the incident), and we have to wait for the conclusions of that investigation,” he said.

Julani was taken to Hadassah hospital in Ein Karem on Thursday night in serious condition. He awoke from a coma on Saturday. He was able to speak to family members after coming to, but said that he could not identify his attackers. “They were all Jewish,” his cousin — who escaped the attack — told TV interviewers on Sunday.

His mother said the attack was a case “of Jewish terror.”

In a statement made to the court, the suspect arrested on Saturday acknowledged being in the vicinity at the time of the fight, but denied any involvement. His attorney, Ariel Attias, claimed his client was with a friend when the brawl broke out, and that the location of his mobile phone will provide evidence that he could not have been involved with the incident.  Furthermore, Attias said that several hours before the brawl, his client was instrumental in breaking up a different fight, also believed to be between Jews and Arabs. The earlier incident, according to Attias “indicates his character — that he is a pursuer of peace.”

The cousin of Julani, who was with him at the time, was quoted by Channel 10 saying that some 50 people gathered around the victim shouting “Arab!”. When they heard Julani speaking Arabic, his cousin said, “they grabbed him and shouted ‘What are you doing here?’ and hit him.”

A representative of the police at the remand hearing on Sunday described Julani’s injuries and claimed that it was a miracle that he survived the attack. He added that the case will take time to investigate fully, because there were many suspects and “hundreds of witnesses.”

Channel 2 reported on Sunday night that police believe 10 people were involved in the beating.

Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.

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