Almost two months after a brutal mob attack on two wounded Syrian nationals left one of them dead and the other badly wounded, two residents of the Druse village of Majdal Shams were indicted in the Nazareth District Court Monday on murder charges.
The defendants, Bashira Mahmoud, a 48-year-old woman, and 21-year-old Amal Abu Salah, allegedly can be seen in a video of the attack beating and stoning one of the wounded Syrian men as he lay motionless on the pavement outside the ski village of Neveh Ativ on the night of June 22, the indictment states.
The indictment details how the ambulance carrying the two Syrian men – wounded in fighting in the country’s civil war – was passing through Majdal Shams at 9:15 p.m.
escorted by a military police cruiser, when it was blocked by an ATV, after which dozens of locals approached the ambulance and began checking who it was carrying. The military police told the crowd the wounded men were IDF soldiers, but the mob did not believe them and began to pound on the vehicle, shattering the back windshield.
The ambulance driver and military police managed to flee toward Neveh Ativ where they stopped in the parking lot of a local hotel awaiting approval to continue on.
A few minutes later, an IDF vehicle with troops arrived, as did dozens of Druse villagers, many of them wearing masks and carrying sticks, poles and stones. They then blocked the vehicles in and charged the ambulance, tossing aside the IDF soldiers who were trying to protect it.
The soldiers fired in the air and managed to scatter the mob temporarily, but they returned and pulled the wounded Syrians out of the ambulance through the shattered windshield and began to beat them.
The mob then fled the scene after realizing two men had been killed. Paramedics began treating one of the men who survived the attack, but when members of the mob realized that one of the wounded was still alive, some headed back to finish the job. Security forces, however, managed to evacuate the two men.
According to the indictment, one of those involved in the beating was Abu Salah, who “repeatedly and with great force beat the wounded [man] in his upper body with the intent to kill.” He also threw a stone at the wounded man, while Mahmoud “approached the wounded man and hurled large stones at him with great force repeatedly,” with the intent to kill.
Mahmoud has been in custody since her arrest on July 7, while Abu Salah has been in jail since July 23.
In the state’s request on Mon - day to keep both defendants jailed until the end of legal proceedings, prosecutors wrote that Abu Salah spoke about his part in the murder to a jailhouse informant, and later confessed to investigators. In addition, they wrote that he could be seen in the video of the murder beating “without mercy” one of the wounded men with a wooden board. The video reportedly shows Mahmoud stoning one of the men.
The state said its case has been helped by testimony from the IDF soldiers and paramedics that were present and witnesses who put the two defendants at the scene of the crime.
The indictment issued on Monday includes only the charge of murder, and not attempted murder for the Syrian man who survived. The prosecution on Monday submitted a request for both defendants to be kept in custody until the end of their trial.
Police said Monday that the investigation is still ongoing, and that they have arrested more than 30 people since they began probing the case.
In mid-July, the Haifa District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against Kamal Amar, 22, and Yusef Sarif, 54, from Hurfeish, a Druse village in the Upper Galilee, for their alleged involvement in a separate attack on an IDF jeep earlier on June 22. The two were charged with endangering lives on a public roadway.
Following reports that al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in Syria’s southwest had killed Syrian Druse, the Druse community in Israel in June began collecting donations to send by way of Jordan to help their brethren, while many Druse in Israel vowed to join the fight if the situation worsened for their Syrian kinsmen.
Many Druse in Israel accuse the country of helping the Nusra Front by providing medical assistance to jihadists who come to the border seeking treatment, and have called on Israel to stop the practice altogether. The IDF maintains that it has a policy of favoring non-combatants and to give medical service to moderate rebel fighters only.