Three members of the extremist Lehava organization, ages 18 to 22, were arrested Wednesday in connection with the torching of a mixed Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem on November 29. Brothers Nachman and Shlomo Twitto, and Yitzchak Gabai were arrested in joint operation by Israel Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency.)
A playground and two first-grade classrooms at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School were set ablaze in the attack. Grafitti spray-painted on the wall of the Jerusalem school in glaring scarlet read, “Down with assimilation,” “Death to the Arabs,” and “There is no co-existence with cancer.”
Details of the case were first made available to the public in part this week, after the Tel Aviv Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court partially lifted a gag order.
Under interrogation the three suspects confessed to having set fire to the building and said they were motivated by the fact that both Jews and Arabs attend the school. In addition, they said they were attempting to raise social awareness via the media regarding Jewish assimilation in Israel.
Their attorneys, Itamar Ben Gvir and Avichai Hajbi, said however that the confessions were coerced and could not be used as evidence in a trial.
Lehava is a group that works to prevent intermarriage and opposes Jewish co-existence with Arabs. The group is known for its involvement in a number of racist incidents.
Politicians across the spectrum condemned the attack.