neo-Nazi ring 224.88.
(photo credit: Israel Police)
The original picture painted by investigators of a Petah Tikva-based neo-Nazi group has grown more serious in the days since the lifting of a gag order on the subject, as more and more people have submitted complaints to the police claiming that they too fell victim to the violent gang.
Central District police disclosed that information late Monday, hours after Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen revealed during a pre-Rosh Hashana celebration the bad news that there are "dozens more neo-Nazis in Israel."
Police were working on finding those neo-Nazis, including combing neo-Nazi Web sites for possible suspects, Cohen said at the annual toast at the Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem.
Experts have warned that neo-Nazi organizations may be active in urban areas including Beersheba and the Haifa suburbs.
Cohen added that although a number of neo-Nazi Web sites have been operating in Israel over the past few years, neo-Nazi organization among immigrants was still not a widespread phenomenon.
Shortly after Cohen's announcement, Central District police confirmed that since the revelation of the gang's existence following the arrest of nine suspected members, they had received three additional complaints from citizens who claimed to have been attacked by the same group of neo-Nazis.
The complaints spanned two police precincts - at least one was submitted in the Tel Aviv District and a second in the Central District, where the case was originally cracked.
The third complaint was filed anonymously by a father who claimed that his son had been attacked by the gang.
All the complaints, including the one originating in Tel Aviv District's Yiftah Subdistrict, were transferred to the Central District's Central Investigative Unit, which has been responsible for investigating the case following two Spring 2006 synagogue desecrations in Petah Tikva believed to be the handiwork of the same cell.
The suspected members of the gang, whose remand was extended Sunday in the Ramle Magistrate's Court, will be indicted Tuesday morning in the Tel Aviv District Court. Sources within the Justice Ministry said that due to the fact that some of the suspects are juveniles, the details of the charge sheet against them can only be revealed Tuesday pending a judge's approval.
It is likely that the youths will face charges related to distribution of racist materials via the Internet, as well as concerning the two Spring 2006 Petah Tikva synagogue desecrations, and a number of other violent attacks.
The alleged ringleader of the group has been seen in home videos displayed on the Internet espousing violent philosophy, and police have reconstructed Internet chats in which he allegedly told would-be followers that they must "erase their [Jews'] religion, to burn their houses and their shelters - I mean their synagogues," as well as saying "I have always been a Nazi and I will always remain one. And I will not rest until we kill them all."
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter reiterated at the toast that Israel should not hurry to change the Law of Return, which permitted the neo-Nazi youths to enter Israel, and that it was important to examine the matter carefully.
"Israeli society must ask not only where these youths made a mistake, but also where we made a mistake in absorbing them and in their education," he said.
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, himself an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, took a similar position to Dichter on Monday, saying that the state must come down hard on the neo-Nazi groups but also warned against generalizing against the Russian sector and calling for a stop to FSU immigration.
"First and foremost, we need to deal with the gang without compromise. It is an unacceptable phenomenon and we need to eradicate it with an iron fist, without mercy," Lieberman said Monday, adding that it is "completely unreasonable" to change the Law of Return "because of one or two gangs, or 10 youths."
The government response continued to trickle down Monday as the Education Ministry announced that the educational television stations, youth groups and schools will dedicate the coming week to the topic of neo-Nazism, with teachers and youth group counselors working with high school and middle school-age students to offer special materials drawn up in response to this week's revelations.
In addition, the film The Wave will be broadcast on educational channels during school hours throughout the week, and educators are encouraged to use the movie's content to stimulate discussion on the phenomenon.
The film, produced in the United States in 1981, is based upon a social experiment carried out by an American teacher who, through the experiment, displayed the ease through which youth can be co-opted into violent fascist beliefs and behavior.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir and ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav sent a letter to school principals in which Tamir told school officials that "the ministry is continuing to stick to the policy through which we must confront these problems and not sweep them under the carpet.
"The scale of the phenomenon may have been presented by the media with a certain amount of exaggeration, but as members of the pedagogical community, we must give our students the opportunity to speak about these things and about the dilemmas as a preventive action."