Three days after five of the six Arab suspects in a brutal beating of two IDF soldiers in Haifa were released to house arrest, they turned the tables and claimed they were provoked by the soldiers they attacked.
The six are accused of beating the two soldiers with metal rods and stones while shouting anti-Jewish curses at them in an attack a second judge deemed reminiscent of the lynch of IDF soldiers in Ramallah.
The two soldiers both suffered several injuries in the attack. They were treated at Rambam hospital.
Both have testified to the anti-Semitic nature of the attack, and have stated that they believe they would have been murdered if not for the appearance of hospital security guards, who ended the assault.
Before assaulting the soldiers, the Arab attackers asked if they were Jewish. When they answered in the affirmative, several Arabs began beating them simultaneously.
However, in a conversation with Channel 2 News on Wednesday, the suspects claimed they had been attacked by a group of 20 Jews and were simply fighting back.
“A group of 20 soldiers threw rocks at our house, then my friends came out and that’s when it happened,” one of the suspects said. “I stayed inside the house with my brother but I was told there was a group of 20 people, and one of my friends hit them back. They almost killed us.”
Justice Ron Shapira, who ruled the suspects would be released to house arrest, declared that the attack was motivated not by anti-Israeli sentiment, but rather, by simple mistaken identity. The attackers’ use of the word “Jew” was part of the mistake, he said.
The suspect who spoke to Channel 2 dismissed as “nonsense” the allegations that the soldiers were beat because they are Jews and said, “There are Jews living in my building, I have Jewish friends, I play soccer with Jews. The whole thing was inflated.”
Another suspect added, “I have nothing against Jews, I have Jewish friends.”
A third suspect denied that he had even known the two were soldiers, saying they were not wearing uniforms at the time of the incident.
The lawyer for one of the suspects, Attorney Wisam Arraf, told Channel 2, “The Court's decision clearly indicates that the incident was not nationalistic in nature, and had returned the story to his proper dimensions. They didn’t even know the two were soldiers.”