The Tel Aviv District Court convicted Yehonatan Mazar Hershkovitz and Yarin Sukar, residents of Bat Yam, of racially motivated aggravated assault on two citizens of Arab origin, residents of Jaffa, in 2021 and shooting at one of them, hitting a woman with whom the victim was staying. Judge Neutel sentenced Hershkovitz to 4.5 years in prison and Sugar to 5.5 years, along with compensation to the victims.
As noted, Hershkovitz and Sucher pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and were convicted of unlawful possession of weapons, aggravated sabotage with intent, racially motivated aggravated battery and an additional charge of possession of a weapon without lawful authorization. Hershkowitz was also convicted of drug possession not for personal consumption.
Violence. The Shin Bet and the police intervened (illustration),
Another defendant, Yaniv Shabtai, was convicted earlier and is now awaiting sentencing. The suspects were arrested about a month and a half after the incident, following an intensive joint investigation by the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police, in which a large amount of evidence and testimonies linking the defendants to the attack were collected.
The amended indictment filed by Attorney Meitav Dagan indicates that on the night of November 14, 11, Mazar and Sugar entered a public park in Bat Yam together with Yaniv, carrying an improvised pistol that was made using a staple gun to which a barrel was attached with a live bullet. While in the garden, the defendants passed a group of two Arab men and two Jewish women who were staying together near a bench in the center of the Eshkol garden.
The group included G.T., a young man of Arab descent, M.H., a young man of Arab descent, who was in a wheelchair because he had ALS, K.S., a young woman of Jewish descent, and A.H., another young woman of Jewish descent.
The staple gun that was converted into an improvised firearm, photo: Israel Police Spokesperson's Office
After addressing the victims with questions and recognizing G.T.'s Arabic accent, Mazar and Sugar continued their walk toward an alley leading to a nearby street, where Shabtai and Mazar wore face masks to make it difficult to identify them, and prepared to attack the victim. The defendants and Yaniv returned to the victims' place of residence and as soon as they reached the victims, Hershkovitz kicked G.T. hard in the head and immediately punched him.
"Kill him, he's an Arab"
As a result of these blows, G.T. fell to the ground. The defendants and Yaniv began kicking and punching G.T. while he was lying on the ground, shouting: "Kill him, he's an Arab," "A gay Arab." At the same time, M.H., while confined to a wheelchair, was hit by one of the defendants.
At this point, the defendants pulled out the improvised pistol, intending to shoot G.T. Sugar pointed the gun at G.T.'s torso at close range, and Yaniv, who did not know the gun existed, saw this and shifted Sugar's hand during the shooting to prevent a fatal outcome.
Because of the above, the shot fired by sugar from the improvised gun ejected a bullet that hit young woman A.H. and penetrated her leg. The defendants and Yaniv continued to beat G.T. together while he was lying on the ground, including with an improvised pistol, until they left the garden. As a result of their actions, G.T. sustained multiple injuries to his head, face and body and required hospitalization. In addition, as a result of the shooting, a bullet penetrated A.H.'s right calf, wounding her and requiring hospital treatment.
Hatred and racism
Upon receiving the verdict, Dagan and Assaf Shavit, who handled the case, said that "the defendants brutally attacked the victims, whose only sin was the Arab origin of two of them and their desire to spend time together in a public park. The defendants' actions included shooting at innocent people in the heart of a city, along with physical and verbal violence motivated by hatred and racism. The Shin Bet and the police worked to locate the defendants and collect evidence as part of an undercover investigation and an open investigation, and we should welcome the fact that today the defendants are being held accountable for their ugly actions."
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