Almost burned alive
Israeli Arab Indicted for over Jew's Near-Lynch

Indictment reveals how Muhammad Haj Yahia attempted to burn Jewish man alive by throwing firecracker into his car during riot in Taibeh.

Shlomo Pyotrkovsky, Cynthia Blank ,

Arab rioters in Jerusalem (file)
Arab rioters in Jerusalem (file)
Flash 90

The Central District Attorney's office filed an indictment Thursday morning at the Lod District Court against Muhammed Haj Yahia, 21, a resident of Taibeh, who attempted to burn a Jewish man alive in a violent attack last month.

Haj Yahia is charged with intent to cause grave injury, malicious damage to property, and causing a disturbance. 

According to the indictment, following the shooting of Hir Alhamdan by police in Kafr Kana, riots broke out in the Arab city of Taibeh in central Israel. 

At around 9:20 p.m. a group of young masked protesters, including Haj Yahia, gathered at the Taibeh bridge. They began to burn the tires of vehicles near the bridge, which ultimately led to the temporary closure of Highway 44. 

The crowd also started to stop passing vehicles to check the identity of the drivers in order to target Jews. 

During the riots, Haj Yahia turned to a journalist who happened to be standing next to him on the bridge, and requested that he film him and six additional masked rioters. 

Haj Yahia said to the camera: "People of the Triangle: today in Kafr Kana, tomorrow in Taibeh and Umm al-Fahm; Intifada Intifada - everyone should do intifada in his own. With God's help, Hir's blood will not be for nothing; God is greater than the discriminators; God is greater than Zionists; Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!"

Haj Yahia also came equipped with two sets of fireworks. He lit one set of fireworks and threw them at a police vehicle which arrived on the scene during a confrontation between police forces and the mass of protesters on the bridge. 

Around the same time, an Israeli man - 47-year-old Moshe German - drove his car along the road that led to the bridge. He was forced to stop his car because of the riots and subsequent closure of the road, and some protesters approached him and began talking to him in Arabic to discern whether he was a Jew. 

Seeing that the driver was not responding to them in Arabic, other rioters began throwing rocks at the car while shouting at the crowd that the driver was a Jew. German tried in vain to defend himself from the angry crowd as his windshield was shattered by the stones. 

At that point a witness who was also on the road at the time - later identified as 37-year-old Taibe resident Majdi Baloum - saw the angry mob attack the driver, and approached the car in an attempt to keep the crowd away from it. 

Haj Yahia, also by now standing by the car, clutched the second set of fireworks, lit it, and placed it inside the car. The fireworks began to explode and the vehicle caught fire with the driver inside. 

Fearing the driver would be burned alive, Baloum managed to rescue German from the vehicle, and even defended him from the crowd. The two made it into Baloum's own car and fled from the scene.

German was injured as a result of Haj Yahia's actions, and his car was completely destroyed.

In an emotional meeting shortly after the attack German returned to Taibe to thank his rescuer.

"I thought about my wife, Eina, and my sons Roey (16) and Eitan, who is two and-a-half," German said after the meeting. "I thought my family would lose me." 

"I tried to hide in my Toyota, but the crowd continued to attack me, and in a moment [Baloum] came up to me yelling, 'come, come!'. I tried to figure out who is calling me, and you pulled me out of your car and into your Jeep. You saved me," Moshe recounted. "I found it hard to comprehend what is happening, but I realized that you were afraid for my life. Even though they threw blocks at your Jeep, you just went faster." 

"Friend, you and I are the same. If I were in trouble, wouldn't you help me?" responded Baloum, who recounted his version of events. 

"I saw a lot of young people milling around, trying to shoot the fireworks [at German], throwing blocks and rocks. I stood there for a long time, I saw lots of masked men, and I realized something bad was going to happen here," he said. "When I saw they threw at your car large amounts of blocks and heard fireworks explode, I realized soon that you would have no chance to survive and that you needed to be rescued, and fast. I rushed to you in my Jeep." 

"I saw you trapped in the car," he continued. "I knew there was no time to lose. You were in mortal danger. I opened the door of your car and told you to leave, shouting 'Come to me, come on, I'll get you out of here!' I remember your face and hands were full of blood. You were afraid, probably not understanding what was happening, and I shouted to you, 'Come quickly, come to my jeep. I will save you, come!' Your car began to burn, and then you entered my Jeep and we drove to the Police."