Israeli jailed for arson attack on bilingual Jerusalem school


Yitzhak Gabai, a member of the banned Jewish Lehava group, given three years' jail for attack on Arabic-Hebrew Max Hayne school

Yitzhak Gabai (C), with Shlomo and Nahman Twito at the Jerusalem district court on 15 December 2014 (AFP)
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Last update: 
Tuesday 1 December 2015 15:11 UTC

A far-right Israeli has been jailed for three years for an arson attack on an Arabic-Hebrew bilingual school in Jerusalem.

Yitzhak Gabai, 23, was found guilty at the Jerusalem District Court of the November 2014 attack on the Max Hayne Hand-in-Hand school, where a first-grade classroom was badly damaged and slogans in Hebrew reading "Death to Arabs" and "There's no coexistence with cancer" were scrawled on the walls.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of between four and seven years for Gabai and said they planned to appeal, calling the jail term too light.

He was given two years for arson, 10 months for inciting violence on Facebook and two months for weapons possession.

The attack sparked a wave of condemnation and took place amid months of rising tensions and unrest in Jerusalem.

Gabai's accomplices, Nahman and Shlomo Twitto, 19 and  21, have already been sentenced to two and two-and-a-half-years in prison respectively.

The Shin Bet internal security agency has said the three are members of Lehava, a far-right Israeli group opposed to intermarriage.

Lehava activists follow the teachings of the late Meir Kahane, a virulently anti-Arab rabbi whose Kach party was banned in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials condemned the attack at the school, which is on the Green Line separating west Jerusalem from the annexed eastern sector, and has 624 pupils.

Rachel Azaria, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said at the time of the attack: “Harming this school is a horrific crime perpetrated by people who want to destroy any place that creates real cooperation between Jews and Arabs despite our fears and differences. We will not let them do this.”