Two more arrested in rock attack that injured toddler

Total number of suspects in police custody now seven, as security officials point to rise in stoning incidents in capital

The car in which Avigail Ben Zion, 2, was injured by a stone near her home in Armon Hanatziv, Jerusalem, November 28, 2013. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The car in which Avigail Ben Zion, 2, was injured by a stone near her home in Armon Hanatziv, Jerusalem, November 28, 2013. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem police arrested two minors from East Jerusalem early Wednesday suspected of being involved in a rock-throwing attack last Thursday that injured a two-year-old Israeli girl.

The move came two days after five minors from the neighborhood of Sur Baher were stopped on suspicion of taking part in the attack.

Officials have pointed to a sharp rise in rock-throwing incidents in the capital and have vowed to crack down.

The five minors, residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher and aged 14-17, were arrested Monday and were being interrogated by police Tuesday, Channel 2 reported. According to a police spokesman, they admitted to planning and carrying out the attack because of their “hatred of Jews.”

No further information about the two minors arrested Wednesday was immediately available.

On Sunday, four other youths were released after being arrested Friday, when police determined they were not involved in the incident.

“We are holding five suspects,” Superintendent Yigal Elmaliach, who is heading up the investigation, said Tuesday. “Four of them were interrogated and admitted to the act and also implicated the others in the event. Some of them are still being questioned. We are talking about a planned attack. They met beforehand and planned to arrive in the evening in order to throw rocks. In the interrogation they said that the reason was hatred of Jews.”

The five suspects are suspected of hurling rocks at the vehicle in which two-year-old Avigail Ben Zion was traveling with her parents in Armon Hanatziv, a predominantly Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood just over the Green Line.

According to police, the suspects planned out the attack, deciding on the exact spot earlier in the day. They reenacted the attack for police, and most did not express remorse. However, said Elmaliach, “one claimed he got caught up in the event and expressed regret.”

He added that investigators have solid evidence against the suspects.

Ben Zion, whose family was returning from a day out at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, sustained a moderate head wound from the incident. Paramedics rushed her to Hadassah Hospital in the capital’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, where doctors said she was in stable condition.

“To see your little girl with her head down and unresponsive, like she was in the ambulance, is not pleasant,” said the girl’s mother Shirin in an interview with Channel 2. She also emphasized that the rock thrown at the car was about the size of her daughter’s head.

Doctors later said that the girl suffered no internal injuries and her health was improving. Her father Assaf said Friday he had been told she would make a full recovery, and she was later released from the hospital and sent home.

According to figures released by the Shin Bet security agency, November saw a 65% rise in terrorist attacks in Jerusalem compared to the previous month, Channel 10 reported. The security services documented 32 attacks in October, and 53 in November, of which 47 involved Molotov cocktails.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on authorities to crack down on a recent wave of stone-throwing attacks in the city. “It’s about time we start treating a stone as a weapon,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 TV.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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