Suspects arrested in connection to Rosh Hashana rock-throwing attack .
(photo credit: SHIN BET)
Following an intensive multi-security agency search for the terrorists whose rock barrage led to the death of motorist Alexander Levlovitz in Jerusalem on Rosh Hashana, police announced Saturday night that four Palestinian teenage suspects have been arrested.
Levlovitz, a 64-year-old grandfather, died hours after losing control of his vehicle on the night of September 13 when its windshield was shattered by a rock thrown from an overpass in Armon Hanatziv neighborhood while he was driving home with his two daughters.
An investigation determined the rock was thrown by youths from the neighboring Arab village of Sur Bahir. In a joint statement with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), police said that shortly after their arrests the four suspects from the neighborhood confessed to carrying out the deadly attack.
“During interrogation by the Shin Bet, the four admitted that they planned to carry out terrorist acts, especially on Rosh Hashana, and positioned themselves so they could throw stones at passing Israeli vehicles,” police said.
The four suspects, police added, are between the ages of 16 and 19 and are Israeli residents. Three of them have been identified as Muhammad Abu Salah, born in 1997; Fares Mostafa Walid Atrash, born in 1997; and Mahmoud Abed Rabbo Doiat, born in 1996. The identity of the fourth suspect was barred from publication because he is a minor, police said.
Doiat, who confessed to throwing the large rock that killed Levlovitz, said he wore a Hamas flag he received earlier in the month at an “Al-Aksa is in Danger” demonstration against the banning by the defense minister of two radical Muslim groups from the Temple Mount.
The rally was organized by Hamas and the Islamic Movement, according to security forces.
Levlovitz was critically wounded when he struck a tree after losing control of his car. His two daughters were also seriously wounded.
Police said, that after observing the crash, the four suspects fled the scene and met again to coordinate their alibis if arrested.
Despite the arrests, police said the investigation into the attack is ongoing, and that the Jerusalem district attorney would file charges against the teens upon reviewing the evidence.
Shortly after the arrests were announced, Levlovitz’s family issued a statement saying that, while they thank the security forces for apprehending the suspects, “the mission is not complete.
It is important to increase the punishment for rock-throwing and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, because rocks murder.”
On Thursday, the security cabinet approved more punitive measures against rock and firebomb - throwers, including the easing of police open-fire regulations.
The unanimous decision of the 10-member security cabinet was taken after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a number of high-level consultations over the past month with security and legal officials seeking ways to combat the recent wave of violence in Jerusalem.
Since Levlovitz’s death, police have arrested more than 140 Palestinian rock and firebomb-throwing suspects throughout flashpoint Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
Since Levlovitz’s death, police have arrested more than 140 Palestinian rock and firebomb-throwing suspects throughout flashpoint Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.