JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
The police charged Wednesday that an attack of firebombs and a smoke grenade on a building in Or Yehuda early Sunday was not a reprisal by Arabs for the arson death of three Arab workers in the town, but rather an act of provocation by Jews.
One of the suspects is a member of the family whose house was attacked Sunday. The seven Arab laborers who were arrested shortly after the attack Sunday were released Wednesday evening.
The attack took place early Sunday, as three firebombs and a smoke grenade were thrown into the yard of Julia Maslawi in Or Yehuda. Only one bottle ignited, causing slight damage.
At first the local police assumed that the attack was an act of revenge by Arabs following the arson of a hut, in which three Arab laborers were burned to death in their sleep earlier this month.
They arrested seven inhabitants of Tulkarm who were asleep in a nearby hut.
But on Wednesday night police admitted they were investigating in the wrong direction. They said the attack was an act of provocation meant to worsen relations between Arabs and Jews.
Three Jewish suspects were brought Thursday to the Tel Aviv magistrates court: Baruch Maslawi, a member of the family whose yard was attacked; Binyamin Saade; and Yaacov Batash. All are residents of Or Yehuda.
The judge, who ordered their remand be extended for five days, noted that beyond the severity with which one should deal with the case, “there was special public sensitivity about harassment of Arabs working in Israel.”
According to the police, Maslawi himself threw the bottles and the smoke grenade, after he was convinced by the two others to commit the crime. The other two supplied Maslawi with the firebombs and the grenade.
The three could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempt of sabotage by use of explosives, and providing police with false information.