Seven Jewish teenagers have been arrested and remanded over the past few days in connection with the vicious beating in Jerusalem last Thursday of 17-year-old Jumal Julani of Ras el-Amud, who remains in critical condition at Hadassah University Medical Center.
“Yes, I was there. He insulted my mom. So I caught him and beat him,” said a 13-yearold suspect, who police believe was the first to strike the victim.
“I hit him and I hope he gets it again,” the suspect told reporters as he was led by police to the courtroom. “I hope he dies. You can’t go by the Damascus Gate without getting stabbed. So why do they [Arabs] come here? I beat him and I’d beat him again. I’m not sorry for what I did.”
Among those being held are two 15-yearold females. One was remanded until Thursday while the other was released to house arrest along with the 13-year-old. The male suspects are between the ages of 13 and 19.
Police are expecting additional arrests in the incident, in which eyewitnesses claimed that dozens of Jewish youth beat Julani almost to death. The entire event was caught on surveillance video.
Ronen Avniely, deputy commander of Jerusalem’s Lev Habira police station, said the incident started on Thursday night in the capital’s Hatulot Square. He said police believed one of the teenage girls had urged the group to attack an Arab by recounting a recent episode in which she claimed that an Arab had sexually abused her. The girl filed a police complaint at the time and authorities are still investigating whether the relationship was consensual.
On Thursday, however, the girl “was inciting the rest of the group,” said Avniely.
According to her lawyer, the girl began singing racist songs and chanting anti- Arab slogans in the square when the group encountered four Arab teenagers.
The lawyer said she was present during the violence but did not take part.
Avniely said the suspects had given police a number of versions of events, with some claiming that Arabs had been harassing them.
“They were looking to hurt an Arab,” he said of the Jewish youths, adding that police believed around 10 Jewish teenagers had attacked Julani and the “teenagers intended to beat him to death.”
Eyewitnesses said that approximately two dozen Jewish teens had surrounded the victim and began beating him, continuing to kick him even after he fell unconscious to the ground.
Police said Julani suffered from a heart defect that might have caused him to lose consciousness. Paramedics who arrived on the scene found him unresponsive and could not find a pulse. They performed CPR and defibrillation for more than 10 minutes before his pulse returned, and then evacuated him to the hospital.
On Monday his condition had improved and he was no longer in a coma, but he was still disoriented.
Police maintain a heavy presence in the area on Thursday evenings to minimize violence among youths who have begun their weekend partying, and have come under fire for not preventing the attack.
“Police are patrolling the entire area of downtown Jerusalem and they arrived on the scene within two minutes,” countered police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.