The 16-year-old yeshiva student is suspected of being part of a gang who attacked two teachers, one of them Arab, who were on their way to make a condolence call.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Friday refused to extend the remand of a 16-year-old suspected of cursing and threatening two women in a violent incident that also resulted in damage to a car. The youth will be released to house arrest today on NIS 3,000 bond.
Juvenile Court Judge Yaron Mientkavich ruled that although he recognized the seriousness of the allegations, he did not want to keep a minor behind bars longer than necessary.
The youth, who lives in the center of the country but attends a Jerusalem high school, was arrested Wednesday during the attack on Wahad Abu-Zamira, a resident of Kalansua, and Revital Valkov of Herzliya, both teachers at a Ramat Hasharon junior high school.
The two had come to pay a condolence call on the school’s principal, who was sitting shiva in the mostly religious Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe, in an apartment situated near two yeshivas.
As they parked and walked toward the apartment, several religious teenagers on the street noticed the hijab Abu-Zamira was wearing. According to the women, 11 of them began to curse, spit, and throw objects at them. One of the objects smashed the car’s back windshield.
“They called me a Jewish bitch who has an Arab friend,” said Valkov. “They were screaming, ‘get away from here.’”
Valkov said the security guard at a yeshiva on the street did not respond to their pleas for help. At first they tried to seek refuge back in the car, but eventually they ran into the shiva house. After the two finished their visit, several other teachers took Abu-Zamira back with them to the center of the country, but Valkov drove off in her damaged car alone.
At a corner on her way out of the city, two youths swooped toward her car and slashed her tires − an act, she said, that could not have been spontaneous, but was clearly planned.
“I found myself in the car alone. These were moments of terror I can’t even describe,” she said. “I was afraid they’d come and attack me, too.”
In desperation, she called the principal, who sent people from the shiva house to rescue her from her stuck car.
While the youth arrested is suspected only of cursing and spitting, police say they know the identities of the other youths involved in the incident, most of whom are pupils at Yeshiva Le-Ze’irim, the yeshiva high school affiliated with the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, which the suspect also attends. More arrests are expected.
“I’m totally embarrassed and ashamed,” said Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, the principal of Yeshiva Le-Ze’irim.
This was the latest in a series of apparent hate crimes committed against Israeli Arabs all over the country; in Jerusalem in particular there have been several such incidents, including racist graffiti. Early last week, on Purim, three teenage girls allegedly attacked an Arab woman at the Kiryat Moshe stop of the city’s light rail. The girls claimed the Arab woman had pushed them first.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino called the recent violent incidents “despicable and contemptible. The Israel Police has acted firmly in all the recent incidents, arresting suspects involved who will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That’s the best response to these displays of racism.”
The Light Tag Forum, a group set up by various organizations to protest violence against on non−Jews, is organizing a demonstration on Sunday in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to protest the recent attacks.
The Education Ministry issued a scathing condemnation of the attack against the teachers.
“Because a number of violent and racist incidents have occurred recently, Education Ministry director-general Dalit Stauber has instructed that this coming Sunday, March 10, an hour of class time be devoted to a discussion on how to prevent such phenomena and their destructive ramifications for society,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that relevant materials would be posted on the ministry website.
Stauber also spoke yesterday with Abu-Zamira, expressing her sorrow over the incident and decrying baseless hatred “that must be uprooted.