Hatikvah residents indicted for 'attacking migrants'

Youth, 26-year-old man face charges for firebombing building housing African migrants in south Tel Aviv.

By
August 2, 2012 19:06
2 minute read.
African migrants in Tel Aviv.

african migrants in tel aviv black 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday indicted two suspects in the firebombing of a building housing African migrants in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood in May, one of a series of recent attacks on Israel’s African migrant community.

The suspects, repeat offender Elad Gadban, 26, and “Aleph,” a 17-year-old resident of Hatikva, face charges of conspiracy to commit racially motivated aggravated arson, and making and carrying an illegal weapon.

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Both suspects remain in police custody. In his request to keep the suspects in custody until the end of their trial, prosecutor Itai Naaman said Wednesday “it’s impossible to exaggerate the dangerous intent of the accused’s actions,” adding that “the fact that they targeted members of a specific community based on racist hostility towards them, shows the intensity of the danger they pose.”

The court said Wednesday that both men confessed to their role in the conspiracy while under police investigation.

The incident in question took place at 2 a.m. on May 6th on Hanoch Street next to the Hatikva market. Though the bottles did not explode and no one was hurt in the attack, a small fire broke out where one bottle landed on the balcony of an apartment that housed a Nigerian man and his Indian girlfriend. The other bottle landed on the street outside the ramshackle building, which houses foreign workers from Africa, Asia, and elsewhere.

According to the court, Gadban, lives with his mother-in-law in her house on Hanoch Street near the scene of the crime. The court said that he and Aleph decided to carry out the arson due to their contention that African migrants were driving up rental prices in Hatikva, and after hearing that a neighborhood woman had been sexually harassed by an African migrant earlier in the day.

That night, Gadban took his brother’s motor scooter without his knowledge and drove with Aleph to a gas station on Lewinsky Street, where they filled a 1.5 liter bottle with fuel.

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He and Aleph were caught on the station’s surveillance video, part of the evidence that led investigators to them.

They then went to a storage shed next to Aleph’s house, where they made three Molotov cocktails, the indictment states. According to the court, they headed to the building on Hanoch Street at 2 a.m.

and threw two of the firebombs, before heading back to Gadban’s mother-in-law’s house to watch the fallout from the rooftop. Police later found the third firebomb in the storage shed, along with a motor-cycle they suspect to be stolen, according to the indictment.

Gadban has an extensive rap sheet, with six former convictions and a total of 29 arrests, most of them for violent crimes, including attacking police. He has also been convicted of drug and property offenses and three charges of driving without a license.

Gadban was also charged with operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission, after he allegedly took his brothers motor scooter to carry him and Aleph to the gas station and later the scene of the crime.

At the time of the attack, police said they didn’t believe it was connected to a string of firebombing a weeks earlier in the Shapira neighborhood, also in south Tel Aviv, where four buildings inhabited by African migrants were hit by Molotov cocktails, including a Nigerian-run daycare center.

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