Two teen suspects freed in East Jerusalem ‘price tag’ arson

Two teen suspects freed in East Jerusalem ‘price tag’ arson

Police arrest additional suspects in investigation into October 25 firebombing of Palestinian car in Umm Tuba

Illustrative photo of a burning vehicle (photo credit: Gershon Elinson/ Flash 90)
Illustrative photo of a burning vehicle (photo credit: Gershon Elinson/ Flash 90)

Two Jewish minors arrested last week on suspicion of torching an Arab-owned car in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Umm Tuba were released Tuesday with restrictions, Ynet reported.

One of the minors was released last week from police custody and the second was freed on Tuesday, the right-wing Honenu legal aid organization said.

The police investigation into the incident is ongoing, and officers have arrested several additional suspects.

The case in question was a suspected attack on a Arab car in East Jerusalem in late October. The car was found torched with racist graffiti daubed in what police believe was a possible anti-Arab attack by Jewish right-wing extremists.

The incident occurred near the neighborhoods of Sur Baher and Umm Tuba in the south of the city, near a flashpoint area that has seen ramped up tensions between Arab residents of the city and Israeli troops and civilians.

Next to the burned car the phrases “Death to Arabs” and “administrative revenge” were found scrawled on the pavement in Hebrew.

“Administrative revenge” is likely a reference to administrative detention, a practice that allows police to hold terror suspects over long terms without charging them, which was recently used to jail a number of extreme right-wing Jewish activists and suspected attackers.

The attack may have been part of a series of so-called “price tag” hate crime attacks, usually arson and graffiti, which are used by Jewish extremists to target non-Jews — including homes, churches and mosques — as revenge for actions by Israeli officials and others.

David Halevi, an attorney with the right-wing Honenu organization, said his clients denied any connection to the arson attack and that the “bombastic declarations made by the police investigators ended up being groundless.”

In a separate development, one of three men convicted in an arson attack on a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem a year ago was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison after rejecting a plea deal signed by two other perpetrators.

The two other men convicted in the arson attack, brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twitto, were sentenced in July to prison terms of two and two-and-a-half years, respectively, in a plea bargain. They were also required to pay the school a total of NIS 25,000 ($6,450) in compensation.

The three set fire on November 29 to the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem and spray-painted on the school’s walls racist messages such as “There is no coexistence with cancer”; “Death to the Arabs”; and “Kahane was right,” a reference to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a mentor of the Jewish ultra-nationalist movement.

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