House arrest for 5 indicted over soldiers attack

5 of the 6 defendants charged with attacking soldiers in Haifa released to house arrest, court rules.

hospitalized soldier at Rambam, Haifa_150 (photo credit: Channel 10)
hospitalized soldier at Rambam, Haifa_150
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Haifa District Court ruled on Sunday to release five of the six defendants charged with attacking two IDF soldiers in Haifa to house arrest, subject to a probation service check.
The court will make a final decision in the matter Monday morning and the five defendants will remain in custody until then, Judge Ron Shapira said.
Shapira referred to probation service reports filed on the four minors, all aged between 15 and 17, and said the reports recommended their release to full house arrest including electronic tagging.
The judge also ordered the probation service to file a report by April 18 on the sixth defendant, Marwan Attaleh, 25, regarding the possibility of house arrest.
Although the hearing took place in closed court, the judge allowed his ruling to be published. Since four of the accused are minors, there is a gag order in place on their identities.
The six defendants, two adults and four minors, all Haifa residents – were indicted earlier this month on charges of harm with aggravating intent, following a brutal attack outside the city’s Rambam Medical Center against two off-duty soldiers.
According to the indictment, the violent attack occurred 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.
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.
They came across off-duty soldiers Shnir Dahan and Roie Sharaff near the Rambam Medical Center, the indictment says, and attacked them.
The prosecution had requested that all six defendants be remanded in custody for the duration of the legal proceedings against them, saying that they were dangerous and had used extreme violence against two innocent young men.
Attorneys for five of the six defendants, including the four minors, opposed the request and argued that the charges against their clients had been intensified by media reports claiming the attack had been nationalistically motivated.
In his ruling, Shapira said there had been “media hype” about the attack, but that the indictment had been filed after the district attorney had examined the evidence. The prosecution had examined all the evidence with professionalism and had “filed an indictment describing a serious act of violence... without attributing any nationalistic motives or actions [to it].”
The judge said that the prima facie evidence showed that a large number of adults and youths had attacked two young men who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had been “helpless against a flood of people armed with sticks and rods who vented their rage against [them].”
Shapira said that the assumption that the attacks had been nationalistically based was not unfounded since some of the attackers had been heard saying “stinking Jew” and “Jewish Jew.”
However, the judge said the prima facie evidence did not show that the two soldiers had been attacked for nationalistic reasons.
According to the court statement, the defendants believed that the two soldiers had been part of a group, “probably of young Jewish men,” who had thrown stones at the home of one of the defendants earlier on the night of the attack.
Allegedly, they came across the two soldiers, and mistakenly believed they were the culprits, he added.
“This is apparently a serious violent attack made against a background of mistaken identity,” Shapira said. “The use of the word ‘Jew’ was part of that mistaken indentation and not connected to nationalist reasons.”
There was also no evidence to show the defendants knew the two victims were off-duty soldiers, he said.
However, that did not reduce the severity of the attacks, the judge added.
One of the victims, Dahan, testified to police that he thought he was going to die as his attackers beat him with stones and bars, using “indescribable hatred,” Shapira said.
During the attack, Dahan testified, the young men who attacked him shouted “stinking Jew” and “son of a whore,” the judge noted.
The judge revealed that the second victim, Sharaff, told police that his attackers had shouted “Yahud, Yahud” (“Jew, Jew” in Arabic) as they beat him unconscious.
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, a hematoma to the head, cuts and bruising to his body and other injuries.