Police released three Jewish men on Sunday evening who had been arrested earlier in the day in connection with an attack on a Beduin soldier that left him with serious head injuries.
Cpl. Jalal Tawili, 20, is in stable condition at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Deputy director Dr. Zvi Ben-Yishai said the soldier was admitted in very serious condition, but he is no longer in danger of suffering brain damage. He underwent jaw surgery and is expected to be released in several days.
His brother, Muhammad, was injured in the arm and face when he attempted to protect Jalal.
Dep.-Cmdr. Kobi Bachar, the head of Zevulun police station, dismissed suggestions that the attack was racially motivated and that the assailants disapproved of a Jewish girl being friendly with the Tawili brothers, who live in the Western Galilee village of Tamra.
"It was just bullying," he said. "It was people looking for a fight."
Abdullah Tawili, Jalal and Muhammad's father, echoed this sentiment as he spoke to The Jerusalem Post by phone saying that he did not want to label the attack on his sons as racist.
Bachar said that because there has been little racial tension in the area recently, he didn't expect more violence as a result of the assault. "In the summer there is a bit of aggression when the Arabs go to the beach, but there haven't been any problems recently," he said.
The three had been suspected of throwing rocks and beating Jalal in the early hours of Saturday after he and Muhammad accompanied the girl to her Kiryat Yam home following a night out.
The police released the men after Muhammad failed to identify them in court despite picking them out from photographs that the police had shown him, said Bachar.
"Now we've got to search for other suspects," he said.
The three suspects were a 17-year-old resident of Kiryat Motzkin, an 18-year-old resident of Kiryat Yam and a 26-year-old resident of Kiryat Haim. A gag order has been placed on the publication of their names.
Before they were released, Bachar said three had not admitted any involvement in the case.
Abdullah Tawili spoke to the Post by phone from Rambam hospital: "I don't know why my sons were attacked." Nevertheless, he said that Muhammad told him that the attackers shouted, "Arabs, Arabs," when they heard the two talking after they left the building where they dropped the girl, "not Jalal's girlfriend.
"They stoned my sons with rocks till they thought they were dead," said Abdullah, who asked to be interviewed in Hebrew and not Arabic because he said he speaks it better.
Judy Siegel contributed to this report.