Appeal to investigate Tisha B’Av attack near Prophet Micah’s Tomb

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 8:03 On the fast of Tisha B’Av in 2022 (August 7), dozens of Jewish worshipers drove in ten cars to pray at the Tomb of Michah the Prophet in the town of Kabul in northern Israel, as many Jews do every year. They were brutally attacked by dozens of Arab rioters, most of them Kabul residents. The Arab rioters threw whatever was on hand, clubs, metal rods, and other blunt objects at the Jewish worshipers, injured them, and damaged their cars. Despite documentation of the attack by the car-mounted cameras of the victims (see video clips below), the Tamra Police Station closed the case. Honenu appealed the decision to the Appeal Department of the State Attorney’s Office, demanding that the case be reopened and the attackers put on trial.

Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing the victims, stated, “I was shocked to discover that the case of such a serious attack, which was completely documented, was closed as if nothing had happened. Ignoring a racially motivated attack by dozens of rioters on a large group of worshipers is unthinkable. The State Attorney’s Office must thoroughly examine why the police closed the case and then order it reopened and the rioters put on trial.”

In the appeal, Steiner described the brutal attack: “On the fast of Tisha B’Av, a group of Jewish worshipers drove in approximately ten full cars to pray at the Tomb of Michah the Prophet in the town of Kabul in northern Israel as part of a Graves of the Righteous tour, as worshipers do every year. They parked their cars on both sides of the road and walked up to the gravesite for a brief prayer. Suddenly, several Arabs in a Mazda stopped close to the Tomb of Micah, and called out to the worshipers to immediately leave, saying that Jews should not be in the town. The worshipers did not want a clash, so they did not approach the Arabs and did not respond to them. They quickly prayed, intending to leave the site as soon as they had finished. The Arabs left, and then returned with more Arabs several minutes later. They got out of their cars holding clubs and other blunt objects. It was obvious that they intended to beat the Jews who had come to the site. The Jews who had stayed behind to guard the cars feared for their lives. They got into one of the cars and proceeded toward the exit from the town.”

Steiner continued the description: “The other worshipers hurried to their cars and tried to leave the town. At this stage, the Arabs rushed at the cars. They incessantly hurled at the cars, metal rods, plastic chairs, bottles, rocks, and anything else they could get their hands on. The cars’ windshields and windows were cracked and shattered, and the crazed mob tried to injure the passengers. The startled drivers tried to escape the horror but had to turn around in a tight space. In the terrible confusion, they collided with each other and drove onto the sidewalks. All the while, the attackers continued to mercilessly beat the cars with metal rods and wooden clubs. Meanwhile, additional Arab residents of the town arrived on foot and joined the attack. At this stage, the terrified worshipers repeatedly called the police, but a long time elapsed before police cars arrived on the scene. In the end, the worshipers exited the narrow passage and proceeded toward the exit from the town. However, the attackers returned to their cars and pursued the Jewish worshipers.

“The two [Jewish worshipers] who were waiting for their friends at the exit to the town noticed that Arabs were leaving the town and approaching them. The driver tried to escape quickly, but his engine stalled. Then, several Arabs got out of their cars holding clubs and other objects and beat the exterior of the car. The driver tried to remain calm and start his car as the attackers tried any way they could to break into the doors and break the windows. He clearly noticed the attackers’ facial expressions and heard them shouting. They wanted to kill him and his friend, and their shouting referred to the Jewishness of the passengers in the car. After several minutes, the attackers broke the windows and stabbed the passenger in the leg with a metal rod. The rod penetrated his leg and broke a bone. The Arabs also beat the driver, who succeeded in starting the car and escaping. While the driver attempted to get away from the attackers, the latter threw a metal rod at him that penetrated the windshield, passing a few millimeters from his head. The rod hit the steering wheel next to the frame of the driver’s side window.”

In the appeal, Steiner emphasized that although there is video documentation of the attack, the police closed the case: “The incident was documented by cameras mounted on some of the vandalized cars. My clients transferred the recordings to the police. Soon after the incident, my clients filed explicit complaints and testimonies. They detailed the mob attack, the threat that they felt to their lives, the damage to their property, and the slurs by the mob that show the racist motive of their actions. The testimonies and evidence that were gathered at the initial stage [of the investigation] proved, at the administrative level, that this was a terror attack. Therefore, all of my clients were issued a confirmation of property damage that was caused during a terror attack. This confirmation served my clients as proof for the Tax Authority, which accepted their claims and compensated them for the damage. The criminal investigation dragged on for many months, as the undersigned maintained contact with the police station and emphasized to them that the victims would cooperate with any action required of them that would lead to prompt law enforcement and deter a rioting mob. In the end, after I verified with the investigating officer, the case turned out to be closed.”

Steiner concluded the appeal with a demand to reopen the case and put the attackers on trial: “A racially motivated mob of Arab residents of Kabal attacked dozens of Jews and threatened their lives. As some of them were injured, their lives were threatened and their private property was significantly damaged. This assessment was proven also at the administrative level, as shown by the confirmation of their property damage issued by the investigating police station itself and the acceptance of the claims that my clients filed with the Tax Authority. The identity of at least some of those involved in the incident, who were recorded in the video clips, is known to the police. Therefore, this case should have been at least transferred to the State Attorney’s Office so that they could examine the evidence. Their case is based on the principle that the prosecution must act in the public interest. Maintaining public security and preventing racially nationalistically motivated attacks are of the utmost importance. The case at hand is a serious incident of a mob attack. The attack could have easily ended in the death or severe injury of the victims. Closing a case of this magnitude damages the deterrence factor and public security. Therefore, the case must be reopened and all the attackers who took part in the incident will be put on trial,” concluded Steiner.

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