Two months after a group of American Jewish students were severely assaulted on a Kinneret beach by an intoxicated gang armed with metal poles, rocks and chairs, police have vowed to bring at least two of the nine fugitive attackers to justice.
One suspect, a 25-year-old man from Kiryat Ata, was arrested in the days following the attack, and was set to stand trial shortly for assault. But police last week asked state prosecutors to halt legal proceedings against the suspect, so that he can be tried together with two additional suspects they plan on arresting.
"We asked the state prosecution to return the case material to us," Tiberias Police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Efi Partuk said.
"Once we receive the case material, we will launch more intensive action to bring the fugitives into custody, and the three will be indicted together," he added. "There are more suspects, of course, but we are certain of three names, and we are determined to get them."
Isaac, a 21-year-old student from Los Angeles, bore the brunt of the assault, sustaining large cuts and bruises to his head and back after coming under sustained attack by several gang members.
He was forced to cut short his stay in Israel and fly back to the US to recover from his injuries.
"I am so relieved to hear that something is being done at all. For me, one suspect does not mean justice. One suspect means that nine violent gang members are still on the loose," he said over the weekend.
"I am deeply grateful, though, that the police are continuing the search for others. I strongly believe it is in their interest to protect ordinary citizens from such brutality, as it is in mine to see justice and resolution. Giving three the full penalty of the law is better than one, but I would still like to see them all prosecuted," Isaac added.
"The fact that the others have evaded police for so long only increases their criminality, and establishes that they are guilty of assault, resisting arrest, and fleeing the scene of a crime, and that these fugitives should be brought to justice," he said.
Isaac said he had managed to put the harrowing experience behind him, but that he remained affected by memories of the violence.
"I have just begun school again, and I am physically healthy. I am hoping to continue my studies with a graduate degree in security policy. Mentally, I am better now than I was two months ago, but I will never again be on the beach, in crowds, in public, without thinking about the attack.
"I used to make sure I knew my surroundings, I wasn't stupid about where I went, but now I also fear the constant prospect of being randomly attacked. Hopefully in time this anxiety will fade," he said.
"I am definitely going to return to Israel. There are so many people there I love, that have become like family to me," he said, adding, "I will not let the insanity of this assault prevent me from coming back."
On the day of the attack, June 26, a group of civilians attempted to prevent the attackers from fleeing the Kinneret beach by forming a human chain around the beach's parking lot exit, but members of the gang, in two vehicles, drove at the group at high speed, forcing them to jump out of the way.
The attackers were stopped by officers just outside the beach's parking lot, but deceived police by claiming that they were the victims of the assault, adding that they felt their lives to be in danger. The men asked police if they could move away from the scene.
In the ensuing pandemonium, with civilians on the beach still attempting to stop the attackers from fleeing, officers recorded the license plate numbers of the two vehicles, before allowing the attackers to drive away and instructing them to pull over further down the road.
The attackers sped away, and nine suspects remain at large.