Israel issues first sentence in mob attack on Arab driver

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An Israeli court on Wednesday sentenced a man to one year in prison for his involvement in a mob attack on an Arab motorist during a spasm of communal violence last year.

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Lahav Nagauker, who was 20 at the time, was convicted of incitement to violence and racism as part of a plea deal that resulted in lighter charges.

His sentencing was the first in the incident that took place last May, when a mob yanked Said Moussa from his car and proceeded to beat him in an assault that left him motionless and bloodied on the ground. Moussa was seriously injured in the attack.

The court said Nagauker was not involved in the actual attack, but threw a bottle at Moussa’s car, damaging the rear windshield.

The beating, which took place in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, occurred while Israel was at war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The 11-day war ignited an unprecedented wave of internecine Jewish-Arab violence in cities around the country.

The unprovoked beating of the motorist was caught on live television, shocking the public. Nagauker was interviewed live moments after the beating, telling a reporter “we came tonight to fight with Arabs ... if we must we will kill them, and if we must we will murder them.”

According to the plea deal, Nagauker confessed to the charges against him. His one-year prison term is retroactive to the day he was arrested in May. He was also ordered to pay 2,000 shekels ($645) to a restaurant damaged in the unrest.

Nagauker is among at least 10 people who were charged in the incident. In all, hundreds of people, mostly Arabs, were arrested for the nationwide violence, which saw mobs of Jews or Arabs vandalize property and violently clash, in some cases resulting in deaths.

Also Wednesday, an Israeli military court sentenced a Palestinian-American man to two life sentences for carrying out a deadly attack on Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

Israel says Muntasser Shalaby, 44, carried out a drive-by shooting last May that killed Israeli student Yehuda Guetta and wounded two others. He was arrested days after the attack and Israeli forces demolished his house weeks later.

Israel says its controversial policy of punitive demolitions are meant to deter future attacks. But critics view them as a form of collective punishment. The demolition of Shalaby’s home was especially controversial because he was estranged from his family and stayed there only for short periods when visiting from the United States.

The court also required Shalaby to pay 2.5 million shekels ($800,000) in damages.

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