Third Suspect Arrested in Tishah B’Av Near-Lynch

Arab rioters. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90, File)

Police on Thursday arrested a third suspect in the case of a near-lynch of an Israeli driver who accidentally drove on a heavily-trafficked street outside the Old City of Yerushalayim. The third suspect, a 16-year-old Yerushalayim Arab, was arrested after two other adult suspects were hauled in a day earlier.

The incident occurred Motzoei Shabbos, as Tishah B’av was beginning. The Israeli driver was ambushed as he drove on Sultan Suleiman Street, which runs parallel to the main north-south road that passes the Old City. Video that surfaced later showed a gang of Arabs surrounding the Israeli vehicle, which was traveling slowly due to traffic.

They began pelting the vehicle with stones, and attempted to pull the door off the vehicle and pull the driver out of it. B’chasdei Shamayim, a police officer happened by, and assessing the situation, he fired in the air, dispersing the mob. The driver was taken to a nearby hospital with light injuries as police officers began a pursuit of the culprits. Two suspects were arrested. The vehicle was badly damaged.

Channel 20 reported that later Saturday night a second, similar incident occurred in the same area – but this time, the person in the vehicle was a foreign tourist, not an Israeli. Police intervened in this incident as well. The vehicle was damaged by rocks thrown by rioters, while the passenger was treated for shock.

Police were able to identify the arrested suspects from the video, and tracked them down, arresting them at their homes. Police intend to bring all three suspects to court Thursday for an extension of their remand. Further arrests are expected.

Also Thursday, a Be’er Sheva court indicted an Arab from southern Israel for being a member of Hamas. Mohammed Bardwil, 40, is being charged with a series of security crimes. The indictment says that Hamas recruited him in 2011, upon his return to Gaza from serving time in an Israeli prison for smuggling explosives from Sinai into Gaza in 2006. At the time, Gaza was still under Israeli control.