Eilat police on Saturday arrested four local men, including one soldier and one minor, who they suspect carried out a series of violent attacks and robberies on African migrants in the city over the past two months.

In all of the cases, the victims required hospitalization.

In addition, it was the migrants themselves who complained to police about the attacks, despite the fact that they are often reluctant to go to police because of their unclear legal status in the country.

Insp. Lior Ben-Simon of the Eilat subdistrict said that a local man called police early Saturday morning to report seeing four men attack an African migrant and beat and rob him before fleeing in a car. The resident gave police the car’s license number and they were able to track down the car and four suspects shortly after.

A photo sent out by police shows the gear found in one of the cars, which Ben- Simon said police suspect was used in the attacks, including a metal pole, pepper spray, a screwdriver, a knife, a chain and gloves. In another car, police found a cellphone that was stolen in a previous attack, Ben- Simon added.

Ben-Simon said that all four suspects are Eilat locals without criminal records, and are friends with each other. Three of them are age 18 and the fourth is 17 years old. The suspect who is in the IDF serves in the navy and is based in Eilat.

When asked if the attacks were racially motivated or if migrants are simply easy targets, Ben-Simon said that police have indications that both motives were present, but haven’t reached a final conclusion on what was behind the attacks.

So far the suspects have linked themselves to two of the attacks, but have not yet confessed. On Sunday the Eilat Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of the three adult suspects by four days, and the minor by three days. The investigation is currently being handled by the southern district branch of the YAMAR investigative unit.

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