A worker carries a burnt board in a classroom yesterday in the integrated Arab-Jewish Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
The Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday filed a claim of NIS 518,000 against the three Jewish extremists convicted of vandalizing and setting fire to the capital’s Jewish- Arab Max Rayne Hand in Hand School last November.
In a statement, the municipality said the action was filed due to the serious damages caused to the school, including two classrooms and the equipment in them, windows, an alarm, and fire extinguishing systems.
Additionally, the claim includes ancillary expenses caused as a result of the arson attack, including the destruction of books, toys, clothing and the costs of psychological counseling for traumatized students, the municipality said.
“In light of the defendants’ admission of guilt, and their conviction for the arson attack on the school, the municipality decided to sue them directly for the costs of the damages caused as a result of the crime they committed,” the statement said.
The fire was set in a preschool classroom at the Pat neighborhood institution on the night of November 29, with Hebrew graffiti, including “Kahane was right,” “You can’t coexist with a cancer,” “Enough with assimilation,” and “Death to Arabs,” affixed to the walls.
Three members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava, Yitzhak Gabai and brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twito, ages 18 to 22, and all from the West Bank settlement of Betar Illit, have been arrested in the case.
Jerusalem District Court has sentenced the two brothers to two years in prison and the third suspect has also been convicted in the case, but has not been sentenced yet.
Lehava follows the teachings of the late Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, whose Kach Party was outlawed by Israel for inciting racism.
The municipality said the defendants were “convicted of setting the school on fire and causing the damages.”
“The indictments, to which the defendants pleaded guilty, noted that the act was committed because of the fact that both Jewish and Arab students attend the school together, from a desire to generate media attention, and as part of their activity to prevent assimilation and coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the lawsuit should serve as a warning to Jews or Arabs who target any of the capital’s institutions.
“Let it be known to anyone who damages the city’s infrastructure, light rail or educational establishments that, criminal proceedings aside, we will take every possible action to ensure that they pay the full price for the damages they cause,” he said.