State indicts 3 in arson of bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem

The three, Yitzhak Gabai, 22 of Jerusalem, Shlomo Rachamim Twitto, 20 of Beitar Illit, and Nachman Twitto, 18 of Beitar Illit, were charged with arson, breaking an entering and destroying property.

State indicts 3 in arson of bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS)
State indicts 3 in arson of bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court against three men for the arson and “price-tag” attack at Jerusalem’s integrated Max Rayne Hand in Hand School late last month.
The three – Yitzhak Gabai, 22, of Jerusalem, and Shlomo Rachamim Twitto, 20, and Nachman Twitto, 18, both of Beitar Illit – were charged with arson, breaking and entering, and destroying property.
Gabai was also indicted for driving without a license and illegal possession of a knife.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the suspects are members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava, which follows the racist teachings of the late Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, whose Kach Party was outlawed by Israel for inciting racism.
The indictment states that the three conspired to set fire to the school on November 28 to show their opposition to its coexistence efforts. It charges that the three picked the school having heard that it had recently held a ceremony marking Yasser Arafat’s passing and in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem against Jews.
The three approached the school with gasoline, a lighter, spray-paint, and plastic bags to cover their hands, the indictment states. It says Gabai and Shlomo entered two classrooms by climbing through their windows and poured gasoline in the rooms, while Nachman spray-painted the walls with “Death to Arabs,” “Kahane was right,” and “There is no coexistence with a cancer,” before igniting the fire and fleeing the scene.
The incident swiftly drew national and international condemnation amid calls for the suspects to be brought to justice, after an investigation confirmed the arson.
Following the vandalism, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the perpetrators, saying, “Pyromaniacs and those who disturb order cannot take the law into their own hands to disrupt the routine of our lives.”
A number of Meretz representatives contended that the incident was directly related to the controversial “Jewish state” bill, which would define Israel as a Jewish state and which critics argue would further alienate Arab citizens.
Two days after the arson, two Jewish teens were arrested for hanging anti-Arab placards on the school’s exterior walls, stating “Kahane was right” and “Arabs are cancer.”
According to police, both boys, aged 14, were initially detained for questioning by the school’s security guard, who called the police.
Daniel Eisenbud contributed to this report.