By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
An Israeli judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that two Arab Israeli suspects who beat a rabbi and his colleague in Jaffa were not motivated by religious hatred.
The two men, who were filmed beating Rabbi Eliyahu Mali on Sunday after he visited a potential site for a yeshiva in the mixed Jewish-Arab municipality of Jaffa, had been held in police custody since the attack.
Channel 12 News reported that at the hearing, police asked Judge Or Mammon to extend the suspects’ detention. Mammon denied the request, and ruled that the men should be released on house arrest after five days of detention.
Justifying the decision, he said that he believed the attack was not fueled by anti-Semitism.
“In my opinion, the source of the conflict is not racism,” Mammon reportedly said.
“As for the racist motive, the investigation has progressed, and in my opinion, this suspicion has not grown, and it is possible to determine that this claim has actually weakened significantly.”
The police said they believed the attack on Mali to be “nationalistically motivated,” a term commonly used in Israel to describe Arab Israeli or Palestinian attacks on Jewish Israelis.
If the judge had found the attack was anti-Semitic, it’s likely he would have extended the time the men spent in custody.
The attack on Mali led to several consecutive nights of rioting in the coastal city.
Hours after the attack on Sunday evening, mostly haredi Jews held a protest against anti-Semitic violence in the area.
Arab Israeli counter-protesters taunted the Jewish protesters, chanting “Settlers go home!”
The Arab Israeli counter-protest eventually devolved into a riot, with demonstrators blocking roads and throwing projectiles at police officers.
A Jewish driver passing through the area was attacked by a stone-throwing mob.
A local imam criticized the Israeli police for swiftly arresting Mali’s attackers, complaining to Hebrew language media that the police prioritized investigating the incident over the murders of Arab Israelis.
“Dozens of people have been murdered and not a single person has been arrested,” said Bilal Dacha. “It’s a disgrace!”