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Israeli settler indicted over attacking Palestinian for walking with Jewish woman

Sept. 11, 2017 5:42 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 11, 2017 7:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli court indicted an Israeli teenage settler on Sunday for allegedly attacking a Palestinian man in Jerusalem over an Israeli woman, who the settler though was in a relationship with the Palestinian, according to Israeli news daily Haaretz.

The settler, who lives in the illegal Modiin Illit settlement in the occupied West Bank, was identified as 18-year-old Yehiel Weisenstern. He was charged by a Jerusalem district court with aggravated assault and committing a racially-motivated hate crime.

According to Haaretz, the indictment said that Weisenstern saw the victim, identified only by his first name Muhammad, walking with a female Jewish friend who works with him in the Mahane Yehuda market area in downtown Jerusalem.

Weisenstern and two friends, who Haaretz said were unknown to authorities, allegedly became aggressive after Muhammad turned down their request for a cigarette.

The suspect and two friends began to follow Muhammad and his female friend, who the three Israeli men asked if she was Jewish. According to the indictment, they then asked Muhammad “why he was going out with a Jew.”

When Muhammad tried to explain that he and the woman worked together, “the suspect or one of his friends allegedly took out a knife from his pocket and said to him: ‘You’re dating Jewish girls. We will **** you today!’,” Haaretz said.

One of the three Israeli men then began punching Muhammad who tried to flee. Muhammad eventually stopped running, at which point “the suspect and the others surrounded the complainant and started cursing him, telling him he wouldn’t be allowed to work in the market anymore and that they would screw him,” Haaretz quoted the indictment as saying.

Weisenstern and his friends then began punching and kicking Muhammad until a passerby separated them. Muhammad reportedly suffered from injuries to his head, back, stomach and legs.

The suspect’s lawyer said Weisenstern was “a youth without a criminal past living under difficult circumstances,” claiming that Weisenstern was actually attacked by Muhammad and that it was Muhammad who started the altercation, and that Weisenstern did not act out of racial or nationalist motivations.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements across occupied the West Bank in violation of international law often commit attacks Palestinians, with activists and rights groups having long accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers who commit such acts.

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