Jewish arsonists of Arab-Jewish school slapped with terrorism charges

Three members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava face charges of incitement and racism as well.

January 13, 2015 18:45
2 minute read.
Jerusalem school

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)


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The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday filed additional charges against three Jewish extremists indicted for the November arson and price-tag attack against the capital’s integrated Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand School.

According to the amended indictments, Yitzhak Gabai, 22, of Jerusalem, and brothers Shlomo Rahamim Twitto, 20, and Nahman Twitto, 18, both of Beitar Illit, will also be charged with incitement to violence, incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organization.

The three were initially charged with arson, breaking and entering, and destroying property on December 15.

Gabai was also indicted for driving without a license and illegal possession of a knife.

According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the suspects are members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava.

The indictment states that the three conspired to set fire to the school on November 28 to show their opposition to its coexistence efforts.

It charges that they picked the school after learning that it had recently held a ceremony marking Yasser Arafat’s death and in response to recent terror attacks in Jerusalem against Jews.

The three went to the school with gasoline, a lighter, spraypaint, and plastic bags to cover their hands, the indictment states. It says Gabai and Shlomo Twitto entered two classrooms by climbing through windows.

They poured gasoline while Nachman spray-painted the walls with “Death to Arabs,” “Kahane was right,” and “There is no coexistence with a cancer,” before igniting the fire and fleeing the scene.

The incident swiftly drew national and international condemnation amid calls for the suspects to be brought to justice, after an investigation confirmed the arson.

Following the vandalism, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the perpetrators, saying, “Pyromaniacs and those who disturb order cannot take the law into their own hands to disrupt the routine of our lives.”

A number of Meretz representatives contended that the incident was directly related to the controversial “Jewish state” bill, which would define Israel as a Jewish state and which critics argue would further alienate Arab citizens.

According to the defendants’ attorneys, their confessions were coerced under duress from sleep deprivation and physical threats. Both attorneys have claimed that the confessions are inadmissible.

Since the three were charged with the crimes, 17 other member of Lehava have also been arrested for incitement, including its leader, Bentzi Gopstein.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.

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