Two men were charged with attempted murder and one man as an accomplice in connection with several firebomb attacks in Jaffa last month, including one that left a 12-year-old Arab boy seriously injured, Tel Aviv prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Ahmad Daoud, 21 and Rizak Jarboa, 35, are accused of the attempted murder of Muhammad Gintazi, while 38-year-old Raed Jarboa was indicted for aiding them in the attack, which also injured Gintazi’s 10-year-old sister.
The three, all residents of Jaffa, were accused of planning and carrying out attacks on Jewish homes in the city’s Ajami neighborhood “out of a nationalist motive,” with the attack on the Gintazi family home a case of mistaken identity.
The indictment said Daoud and Rizak Jarboa prepared the Molotov cocktails in the presence of Raed Jarboa, before the two took the firebombs and attacked nearby homes to “cause the deaths of Jews.”
The three were also charged with additional offenses including arson, attempted arson, obstruction of justice and weapons offenses in connection with the firebomb attacks they allegedly carried out on a number of homes in the city.
Muhammad Gintazi suffered burns to 18 percent of his body in the May 14 attack and was sedated and put on a ventilator due to smoke inhalation. Doctors have since said his condition has improved. He and his sister are both traumatized by the attack and the family home was seriously damaged.
The attacks came as violence spread across Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities following clashes between Jerusalem police and Palestinian rioters in and near the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount — Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third-holiest — and amid the planned eviction of Palestinians from homes in an East Jerusalem neighborhood.
The violence also sparked an intense 11-day battle between Israel and terror groups in Gaza after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem.
The announcement of the indictments against the three came hours after police arrested an imam in the central city of Lod on suspicion of incitement to violence, weeks after ethnic riots rocked the mixed Jewish-Arab city.
Sheikh Yusuf Albaz, 63, an imam at Lod’s Great Mosque, was questioned by investigators in the Lahav 433 unit. He was expected to be remanded in custody later in the day at the Rishon Lezion Magistrates’ Court.
Albaz was arrested over social media posts that appeared to encourage violence against police. In one clip shared by him on Tuesday, two people were shown murdering traffic police officers after getting a ticket. Albaz wrote: “The best way to deal with injustice.”
The imam, who is allied with the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, has also referred to Israel as an “enemy state” and wished “deaths” upon the “Zionist occupation” in past online posts.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, police were preparing for the possibility that Albaz’s arrest would spark fresh riots in the city.
Separately, a television report on Wednesday night said police had arrested four Arab residents of Lod some 10 days ago in connection with the killing of a Jewish man last month.
Investigators, however, do not appear to have sufficient evidence to charge the four suspects with the murder of Yigal Yehoshua, 56, the Kan public broadcaster said. Prosecutors will soon determine whether to file indictments against the suspects and on what charges, the report said.
Yehoshua was on his way home on May 11 when he found himself in the middle of violent protests sweeping Lod. His car was pelted with rocks and he was hit in the head with a brick. Yehoshua was rushed to Shamir Medical Center in serious condition, but his condition deteriorated and he succumbed to his wounds several days later.
Intense Arab rioting broke out in the city that day following the death of an Arab man a night earlier. Mousa Hassouna had been shot by Jewish residents in what Jewish witnesses asserted was self-defense during rioting and Arab residents decried as a cold-blooded killing.
Several other people, Jewish and Arab, have been assaulted and seriously wounded in shooting incidents and beatings during the unrest.
In a separate investigation, police and the Shin Bet internal security service said Thursday that nine suspects were arrested in connection with an attack by Arab rioters on a Jewish family that accidentally entered the city of Umm al-Fahm during the violence.
Police said the May 13 attack occurred after the nearby highway was blocked during the rioting, forcing vehicles to divert to other routes.
In a statement, police said the suspects waited for a vehicle with Jewish passengers to enter the city, at which point they began to throw rocks and shout “Jews! Jews!”
The Jewish couple and their three young children were eventually rescued by police with the help of local residents. The family members all sustained mild injuries.