2 Jewish teens indicted on terror charges for January firebombing of Herzliya mosque

16 and 19-year-old from Tel Aviv allegedly considered lynching Arab Israeli but instead decided to target mosque, which they filmed and later posted to TikTok

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Molotov cocktails prepared by two Israelis accused of firebombing a the Sidna Ali Mosque in the central city of Herzliya on January 29, 2023. (Justice Ministry)
Molotov cocktails prepared by two Israelis accused of firebombing a the Sidna Ali Mosque in the central city of Herzliya on January 29, 2023. (Justice Ministry)

Two Jewish suspects, including a minor, were indicted Friday on terror charges for recently firebombing a mosque in the central city of Herzliya.

The Tel Aviv residents, aged 16 and 19, were arrested by police in the past few days for targeting the Sidna Ali Mosque in January with Molotov cocktails as an act of revenge for Palestinian terror attacks, according to a Justice Ministry statement.

The suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and arson offenses. The roof of the mosque was left covered in soot due to the act.

The indictment also alleged the two considered carrying out a lynch of an Arab-Israeli but decided instead to act against the mosque.

In May 2021, an Arab man was targeted in a vicious racist assault by as many as 15 men outside the Herzliya site, amid an intense wave of intercommunal violence that accompanied fighting in Gaza between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli forces.

According to Friday’s charge sheet, the two initially scoped out the well-known Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa to attack in the early hours of January 29. However, their suspicious activity was noticed by a passerby, who threatened to call the police.

The two subsequently fled, then searched “mosques” on the Waze navigation application, where they found the Sinda Ali Mosque. Before heading there, they allegedly purchased bottles and fuel from a Tel Aviv gas station, arriving with Molotov cocktails already prepared.

The indictment said that while one of the accused threw two of the explosives at the roof of the mosque, the other filmed the act on his phone. After that, the second allegedly threw a third explosive, before the pair fled the scene.

One firebomb set the roof alight, causing minor damage.

The suspect who filmed the incident sent the video to his alleged accomplice, who uploaded it to TikTok with the text, “message to Hamas, the people of Israel want revenge and this is only the beginning.” The post also included a distorted voice recording of the text.

In his request to arrest them, Tel Aviv prosecutor Tal Eliyahu warned that if the mosque caught fire, it could have led to “an escalation of severe acts of violence in Israeli society, on a religious and nationalistic basis.”

This picture taken on February 27, 2023, shows an aerial view of a scrapyard where cars were torched overnight, in the Palestinian town of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

According to the Shin Bet, there has been a rise in motivation to attack Arabs since a group of settlers rampaged through the West Bank town of Huwara in February following a deadly terror attack, burning cars and homes and leaving one Palestinian dead in unclear circumstances.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 84 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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