9 suspected of attacking Nazareth Arabs

In apparent hate crimes, group allegedly committed assault, torched cars and tried to set fire to homes.

Acre burnt car 244.88 (photo credit: AP)
Acre burnt car 244.88
(photo credit: AP)
Nine youngsters have been arrested for allegedly carrying out nationalistically-motivated attacks on Arabs and their property in Upper Nazareth, police said Monday. The group, consisting of two 22-year-old men and seven teens between the ages of 15 and 18, is suspected of violently assaulting Arab residents of the city, as well as torching cars belonging to Arabs and trying to set fire to their homes. The nine were brought for a remand extension hearing Monday at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court. Police said most of the detainees were immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and that one was a member of an ethnic minority group. "The make-up of the group is quite diverse," Zohar Dvir, commander of the Israel Police Ha'amakim District, told Army Radio. "Upper Nazareth is a city with lots of different ethnic groups, and so the potential for trouble is high." Police stressed that the attacks were in no way connected with the IDF's Operation Cast Lead and that the suspects were not part of a new Jewish underground, but were apparently a group of thugs acting independently of any other organization. The suspects allegedly carried out the attacks between October and December of last year, and during that time, police conducted undercover operations and collected evidence. Police Northern District chief Cmdr. Shimon Koren said he viewed the case severely, regardless of the fact that the alleged attacks were apparently perpetrated out of nationalistic motives. "We won't allow attacks on people or property, without distinction between religion, race or gender," he said, vowing, "We will bring the suspects to justice." Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso expressed hope that the alleged offenses would not harm Jewish-Arab relations in the city. "We strongly condemn all acts of violence of any sort, particularly hate crimes, against Jews and Arabs alike," said Gapso. "Upper Nazareth is an example of coexistence and we will make every effort to preserve this."