Netanel Binyamin from Bat Yam, who was suspected of involvement in the disturbances that took place during Operation "Guardian of the Walls," was convicted today (Wednesday) by the Tel Aviv District Court. The presiding judge in the verdict attributed to him offenses of attempted murder terrorism, intentional damage to a vehicle with a racist motive, theft with a racist motive, and rioting resulting in damage with a racist motive.
The indictment states that during Operation "Guardian of the Walls," Binyamin published calls in a WhatsApp group to harm businesses owned by Arabs. Together with dozens of other rioters, on May 12, 2021, he arrived at Ben Gurion Street in the city, where they vandalized and damaged businesses, including smashing windows and looting a restaurant. After Binyamin entered the restaurant with other rioters, more rioters joined, disrupted the restaurant's lighting fixtures, and destroyed them. Benjamin entered the kitchen, took a large quantity of beverages, and distributed them to the rioters.
It is further stated, "Binyamin attacked Said Musa, who was present at the scene with his car, along with dozens of other rioters. Binyamin struck the complainant with approximately 10 punches to the face while he was lying on the ground, and he also kicked him in the neck."
After passersby intervened to protect Musa, Binyamin distanced himself from the scene, and later returned. He kicked Musa in the head, intentionally threw a bottle at his face to cause his death. Simultaneously, along with other rioters who attacked and looted Musa's car, Binyamin threw a heavy object and hit the vehicle with it.
Judge Ravid: "We heard chilling testimonies"
In the verdict written by Judge Ravid, it is stated: "The incident on which the indictment is based is a severe event. It is a violent hate crime in which an Arab Israeli citizen, who innocently found himself in the Bat Yam promenade area, was forced to fight for his life against a furious mob of people who viciously attacked him solely because he was Arab. The videos that documented the incident in real time are difficult to watch."
Furthermore, it was written that the testimonies we heard from journalists and passersby who were present at the scene were chilling. In some of the witnesses, it was evident that they had experienced a traumatic event merely by being witnesses to what had occurred. Some of them could not hold back their tears when describing the incident, despite the time that had passed. The recurring expression in the testimonies was "lynch."
According to the judge: "It was clear to them that before their eyes, a violent act was being carried out by a crowd that sought to pass judgment on the complainant to the point of death. The witnesses felt like they were witnessing an event that could end in someone's death. None of the witnesses believed at the time that the complainant was a terrorist who had come to carry out an attack. None of the witnesses heard calls of 'terrorist,' but rather the opposite, nationalist calls of 'Arab, Arab.'"
After the accused was convicted, the plaintiffs stated: "We welcome the court's decision to attribute racist motives to the defendant's actions and recognize the attempted murder as an act of terrorism. The decision reflects the severity of the actions and their significant impact on society as a whole, especially during a tense and sensitive period."