Haifa: 6 indicted for attack on IDF soldiers

In hearing, judge says incident does not appear racially motivated, indictment not based on media reports.

hospitalized soldier at Rambam, Haifa_150 (photo credit: Channel 10)
hospitalized soldier at Rambam, Haifa_150
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Haifa District Attorney served an indictment on Thursday charging six people with offenses relating to a vicious assault against two off-duty IDF soldiers in the northern city last month.
The indictment charges Haifa residents Marwan Attaleh, aged 25, Hafez Kais, 54, and four minors aged between 15 and 17 with harm with aggravating intent.
Although the hearing was in closed court, Haifa District Court Judge Ron Shapira allowed reporters to be present at the start of the proceedings and to take photographs, although he insisted that any pictures of the minors be blurred to prevent their identification. A strict gag order remains regarding all details that could identify the minors, as is standard practice in criminal trials.
According to the indictment, the violent attack was sparked after a group of unknown youths allegedly threw rocks at the home of one of the minors, as he was having a party with the other three teenage defendants.
At 1:49 a.m. on February 26, the four minors called the police and reported that someone had thrown stones at the house, causing some damage, the indictment says.
Immediately afterward, the four allegedly also called Kais and Attaleh, and told them what had happened, and the two older men came over to the house with a group of other people.
Some minutes later, the six defendants and others decided to go out and find the young people who threw the stones, the indictment says. Allegedly, some of the defendants armed themselves with iron rods, sticks and stones.
As Hafez drove around the area with three of the other defendants and other men, he came across off-duty soldiers Shnir Dahan and Roie Sharaff near the Rambam Medical Center, the indictment says. Allegedly, the four defendants got out of their car, some still armed with iron bars and stones, and began to shout and swear in Arabic at Dahan and Sharaff.
The defendants pursued the two victims as they tried to escape, but Attaleh and one of the minors caught Sharaff, beat him in the head, threw him to the ground and then beat him all over his body, punching and kicking him and hitting him with iron bars, sticks and stones.
Allegedly, two of the attackers then scratched Sharaff’s head with a sharp tool, apparently trying to carve a word into the young man’s scalp.
According to the indictment, the other defendants caught Dahan, and subjected him to a similar beating, again punching, kicking and hitting him with iron bars, sticks, and stones. During the beating, one of the defendants threw a large rock at Dahan, who told them he was an IDF soldier, the indictment says.
As a result of the beating, Sharaff was hospitalized for four days with injuries including a fractured nose, mild concussion, a hematoma on his head, and cuts and bruising all over his body.
Dahan was hospitalized for three days with head injuries, a wrist and hand injury, hematoma to the head, cuts and bruising to his body and other injuries.
After Shapira served the indictments, he ordered the extension of the defendants’ remand, pending a further decision.
However, the judge said that from the evidence presented so far to the court, he did not see any signs that the attack had any nationalist or racial motive.
Although some of the evidence indicates that the defendants had talked about finding “the Jews,” the judge said this appeared to be “as a way of identifying those people whom they were looking to harm, rather than as a nationalist feature.”
One of the defendants testified that he had not been sure whether they had been looking for Jews or Christians, the judge added.
“Allegedly, and without prejudice to the severity of the violence described in the testimonies, the incident was not nationalist but was a violent event [perpetrated] for other reasons,” Shapira said.
The judge also noted that the defendants’ lawyers had claimed the indictment may have been motivated by media reports.
“To clarify, the indictment is served by the state attorney’s office, which considers the evidence, and not by the media,” the judge said. “The state attorney’s office pleads before the court, and the court will make decisions based on the evidence. Media reports are irrelevant to the matter in hand.”