Police arrest suspect in migrant firebombing case

Released photographs show Haim Mula, 20, clashing with protesters at a demonstration on Friday against the attacks.

Daycare owner shows firebomb damage 390 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Daycare owner shows firebomb damage 390
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday extended until 11 a.m on May 2 the remand of Haim Mula, 20, suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at a daycare center and three homes of African asylum-seekers in the Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv this past Friday.
Mula’s lawyer, Jacob Kahan, said he has not been told what evidence prosecutors had against his client, who had only a few minor arrests on his record. The judge and prosecutor would not elaborate in court but both said there was evidence connecting Mula to the scene.
Police on Sunday would not confirm whether or not the attacks were racially motivated.
Also on Sunday, photos emerged of Mula taken on Friday at a protest held in the Shapira neighborhood against the firebombing. In a series of pictures, Mula is seen clashing with pro-migrant protesters, ripping their placards and verbally assaulting demonstrators.
He can also be seen being whisked away by police.
Mula’s arrest is the first after three attacks on Friday on homes in the neighborhood, which has become a flashpoint for tensions between Israelis and the thousands of asylumseekers and migrant workers who have moved into the area, many of whom are from Africa and Southeast Asia.
One of three buildings that was hit also housed a daycare center run by Blessing Akachukneu, a native of Nigeria. No one was hurt at the daycare, though there were four young children sleeping inside.
On Friday, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who heads the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, said the incidents were a “badge of shame on the Israeli public” that “poses a risk to human life, including the lives of children.”
Horowitz added that “even if there is an argument over the status of asylum-seekers living in Israel, there is no place for tolerating violence against them or for tolerating racism and racist attacks.”
The attacks were not the first in recent years to be suspected of being racially motivated.
In December 2010, a racially tinged demonstration was held in the same neighborhood against the large number of Africans who live there. The demonstration came less than a week after unidentified assailants threw a burning tire at an apartment full of Sudanese in Ashdod.
Five of the seven residents suffered smoke inhalation before they were able to break a window and flee.
That same night, three teenage girls born in Israel to African migrant workers were beaten by a mob of youths near the entrance to south Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, the Hotline for Migrant Workers reported.