The Jerusalem district attorney filed an indictment Monday against seven young Jewish men, aged 18-27, for the attempted lynching of two Palestinians, apparently due to nationalistic motives. All seven suspects are accused of aggravated assault; five are also accused of obstructing justice. An indictment against three minors who allegedly took part in the incident, two weeks ago, was also filed in the Jerusalem District Juvenile Court; they, too, are accused of aggravated assault.
The prosecution is seeking remand in custody for all 10 suspects until the conclusion of legal proceedings.
The violent incident took place in an area between Beit Hanina and the Neveh Yaakov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. Amir Shweiki and Samer Mahfouz from Beit Hanina, both 20 years old, were set upon by a mob of Jewish youths in an unprovoked attack, and brutally beaten with baseball bats and iron bars. Shweiki was seriously injured and is still hospitalized with a head injury in the neurosurgical ward at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. Mahfouz was lightly injured, but last week was hospitalized again after his condition deteriorated.
According to the indictment filed by attorney Yael Igra Unger, on the night in question, Shweiki and Mahfouz were sitting in a public park in Neveh Yaakov: “At a certain point, one of the accused came up to the plaintiffs and asked if they had a cigarette and a lighter in order to ascertain whether the plaintiffs were Arabs. The plaintiffs said no and he left. A few minutes later, all of the accused plus three minors approached the plaintiffs as a group, armed with iron bars and boards.”
Then, says the prosecution, “the accused and the minors surrounded the plaintiffs, calling out, ‘Arabs, Arabs …’ Curses were exchanged. Then the accused and the minors pounced as one on the plaintiffs, some of them wielding iron bars and wooden bats, and began savagely beating the plaintiffs, just because they are Arabs. One of the accused struck one of the plaintiffs on the head very forcefully from behind with a baseball bat; another one struck him with his fist and the plaintiff fell to the ground and lost consciousness. Meanwhile, some of the accused and the minors beat the second plaintiff with iron bars, fists and kicks until he too fell to the ground and lost consciousness for a few minutes.”
Even after the two young Palestinians lost consciousness, the incident didn’t end.
“The accused and the minors continued to beat the plaintiffs as they lay on the ground,” says the indictment. “They beat them fiercely with iron bars and fists, and kicked them hard in the head and face, and all over their bodies. Then the accused and the minors immediately ran away, leaving the plaintiffs lying on the ground in the park, bleeding.”
The charges of obstruction of justice relate to what occurred following the attack. At that time, according to the indictment, five of the adult suspects and one of the minors met. They were concerned that someone might have seen them beating the Arab men, and agreed that if anyone were arrested by the police “he won’t say anything.” In addition, “a few days later, one of the accused instructed another one to delete everything in his phone.”
The beating of Mahfouz and Shweiki marked a peak in the violence and harassment against Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent weeks. Among other incidents, Arab taxi drivers have been beaten or attacked with tear gas, riders on the light rail train have been harassed, and passersby have been subjected to verbal and physical violence.