11 Arabs arrested for bus arson in northern Israel, 18 vehicles torched

Police found in the car a spark plug with flammable material, ready-made torches, observation and burglary tools, headlights, fake license plates, gloves and change of clothes.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli police last Friday captured three residents of the northern Bedouin town of Tuba Zangariyye suspected of involvement in the recent bus fires in the north, Israel’s Hebrew-language site N12 reported.

A police officer from the Northern District managed to catch the three suspects, all in their 20s, redhanded on their way to committing arson.

Police found in the car a spark plug with flammable material, ready-made torches, observation and burglary tools, headlights, fake license plates, gloves and change of clothes.

Subsequently, another eight suspects were arrested in connection with the incidents.

The three suspects are also connected to the arson incidents at Tzfat’s Central Station, where 18 buses were set on fire, the torching of eight buses in Kiryat Shmona, and other recent arson incidents throughout the north. Their detention has been extended in court until next Tuesday.

It is suspected that the three acted on behalf of a criminal organization that extorted sponsorship fees from businesses in the north under the guise of guarding activity. Police believe that the organization tried to skew tenders and prevent contractors who were not coordinated with it from accessing those tenders so that it could rake them in.

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Following the arrest and interrogation of the three suspects, police raided a number of targets in Tuba Zangariyye near early in the morning, arresting eight more people on suspicion of involvement in arson .Police have also requested their detention.

Attorney Suhad Agha, representing one of the suspects on behalf of the Public Defender’s Office, said: “This is a mother of five children with no criminal record. She denies any involvement in the events and provided an alibi version. In light of her condition and the version she presented, we filed an appeal against continued detention, which is expected to be heard tomorrow. We hope she will be released soon.”

The Northern District Police Chief, Superintendent Shimon Lavi, said: “We are working with all our might and with all the tools at our disposal against the phenomenon of collecting ‘protection’ sponsorship.”

“In order to catch the criminals redhanded,” Lavi said, “police raised the need to make a change in legislation in order to allow for additional action against the phenomenon of extortion of sponsorship fees. ”

On May 29, eight buses were allegedly set on fire in Kiryat Shmona; a week prior, two buses were torched in Gush Halav and another bus was set on fire in Safed. On June 12, 18 buses were set ablaze in Safed.