Additional Charges in Bilingual School Arson

Attorney charges 'incitement' and supporting 'terrorist organization' against arson suspects, in 'desperate attempt to influence ruling.'

Shlomo Pyotrkovsky, Ari Yashar ,

Arson at Bilingual School
Arson at Bilingual School
Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

The Jerusalem district attorney on Tuesday submitted an updated indictment to the district court against Yitzhak Gabai (22), Shlomo Tuito (20) and his brother Nahman Tuito (18), who are suspected of setting fire to the bilingual Hebrew and Arabic Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School last November.

In the new indictment that was filed with the approval of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, in addition to the original charges Nahman Tuito is charged with incitement to violence and incitement to racism are added.

Nahman Tuito along with Yitzhak Gabai were also charged with incitement and supporting a terrorist organization in Facebook posts; just what "terrorist organization" the two purportedly supported remains unclear.

The original indictment charged the three with arson, breaking into a non-residential building and destruction of property. Additionally, Gabai was accused of driving without a license and being in possession of a knife in public.

It also became clear in the indictment that the three allegedly attacked the school after it held a memorial honoring the terrorist leader Yasser Arafat.

Attorneys Itamar Ben-Gvir and Avihai Hajbi who represent the three responded to the new indictment, saying "evidently the prosecutor isn't certain enough about the crimes attributed to the accused in the indictment."

"This is a desperate attempt to make the acts attributed to the accused appear more serious, and in this way to influence the court's decision regarding their release," concluded the attorneys.

The arrest of the three, who happen to be activists of the Lehava anti-assimilation organization, led to a crackdown on Lehava last month that saw senior figures including the group's director Bentzi Gopshtain arrested briefly.

In the end, the court vindicated the legality of the group's work in combating assimilation, and threw out the vague accusations of "incitement" that were used as a pretext for the arrests. Gopshtain has said the crackdown only benefited Lehava, strengthening its support and awareness for the organization's work.

However, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) has requested to outlaw Lehava for being "racist" and a "hate group" - that despite the fact that opposition to assimilation is a core tenet of Judaism, and anti-assimilation activity was ruled as being legal by the court.

The crackdown on Lehava has had potentially serious political ramifications; after arresting Lehava members, police also raided the Jerusalem offices of former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit party, making the surprising claim that it was a "front" for Lehava.