An American-born man who had been living in Israel for a decade was beaten to
death last week by two Arab teenagers from north Jerusalem for refusing to give
them a cigarette, police announced on Tuesday, following the lifting of a
court-imposed media gag order on the investigation.
The teens were
arrested on Thursday following an undercover investigation, and were formally
charged with manslaughter on Tuesday in Jerusalem District Court.
victim, Lance Wolf, 60, was sitting in Jerusalem’s Kikar Hahatulot on Rehov
Hillel early on Wednesday morning when he was approached by two teenagers, aged
14 and 15, and was asked to hand over a cigarette.
The teenagers were
drunk, having been drinking from a bottle of vodka that was purchased for them
at a kiosk by an adult earlier in the evening.
Wolf refused the request,
and asked the youths to leave him alone.
“The two backed away from him,
picked up a wooden plank, came back, struck him [on the head], and fled,”
Jerusalem Police said.
Wolf lay bleeding on the ground for at least half
an hour, as numerous passers-by failed to provide him with assistance, according
to a number of reports. Emergency services were eventually called to the scene
by a passer- by.
An ambulance evacuated Wolf to the Hadassah-University
Hospital at Ein Kerem, where he was admitted in critical
Doctors were unable to stabilize him and he was declared brain
dead. On Saturday, Wolf died of his injuries. He was buried on
Jerusalem Police district head Cmdr.
Aharon Franco ordered
a special investigative team to be assembled at the Lev Habira police station to
track down the assailants.
Eyewitness testimonies were gathered, and
police obtained CCTV footage from the square which shows a youth smashing Wolf
on the head with the plank. Wolf is seen falling to the ground as the youths
“Intelligence and testimonies led us to the attackers in north
Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
At first, the suspects
denied the allegations, but they later confessed, police said.
back rudely to me when I asked him for a cigarette,” one of the suspects told
police, when asked to explain why he attacked Wolf.
The Seattle-born Wolf
arrived in Israel 10 years ago after traveling in Europe for a few years. He had
a family history of alcoholism, and struggled with the disease for decades. He
was married twice in the US, and had two sons and a daughter. Wolf was estranged
from his sons but maintained sporadic e-mail contact with his
He also had three grandchildren.
“When he was sober he
was quite a nice man and very sensitive and caring,” said his close friend Natan
Taig, the owner of the Kaplan Hotel at Kikar Zion, where Wolf lived for a year.
“He was not an angel, he could be unfair.”
Haj Ibrahim, the owner of a
guest house on the Mount of Olives, told Ynet that Wolf “loved religion very
much, but not the religious.”
Ibrahim said Wolf had attached the
Palestinian flag to his clothes and had worn a keffiyeh on occasion. He claimed
that Wolf did not learn any Hebrew during his time here.
After years of
avoiding computers, Wolf taught himself programming and HTML in Europe. Taig
noted that Wolf often lived for free in hostels, whose Web sites he would update
in exchange. He also gave private computer lessons, his friends
His friends among the Anglo community that spend time on
Jerusalem’s downtown streets were shocked by the news of his death, saying that
they usually felt safe on the streets at night, but added that they were not
surprised that the incident occurred in that area.
Wolf’s friend said he
was also attacked in the same area about a year ago. He lost most of his teeth
and his jaw was badly broken.
“There are big cliques, bad kids from all
over the country that come and hit the bars, and these kids just drink so much,”
said one man who asked not to be named.
Others shared stories of attacks
by groups of youth in the area.
Kikar Hahatulot (Cat Square), near Kikar
Zion at the end of a street filled with bars, has been a trouble spot for
“The police don’t care. Every Thursday and Saturday night there
are dozens of kids vomiting and pissing all over the area,” said
“Only when someone gets killed, maybe they’ll do something small
for a little while.”
Taig and others point to a lack of police presence
that allows the kids to run wild, inviting disaster.
“After 8 p.m., you
won’t see any police making rounds here,” said Nuri Yadegaran, who owns a
store in the area. “The police could come clean up this whole area, but
don’t care… They need to be here between 2 and 4 a.m. Tell Nir Barkat to
here by himself at 3 a.m. and see what he thinks.”
He said that the
informal nighttime market in the plaza, with people selling cheap
water pipes, just invites problems.
“They harass young girls, and the
hookah brings harder drugs,” he said.
The US Embassy said it could not
provide details about Wolf due to privacy laws.