As the streets of Israel roiled with racial strife and fighting this month, police smashed a ring of dozens of extremist young Jews who were using social media to plan attacks on Arab citizens.
Police were tipped off about the plans of the group, whose members allied themselves with the extremist Lehava organization. Nine of the group's members were arrested after they were found in possession of various items that they allegedly planned to use as weapons.
Lehava was accused of inflaming tensions in Jerusalem at the start of the month with a march at the flashpoint Damascus Gate where police and Palestinian protesters were frequently clashing.
On the group’s Telegram channel, some members noted that they had prepared Molotov cocktails and tires for burning, while others said they planned to assault Arabs in several mixed cities using the pretext of protests that had spiraled out of control.
“I have no problem sitting in jail, today I am taking the soul of an Arab,” one member said in a recording posted on the Telegram channel.
In separate recording, another member of the group was heard boasting that he and his friends had attacked an Arab bus driver.
“We were five guys… We got on the bus and saw an Arab driver. [One of us] started to fight him, beat him right on the bus. Later the police came and took him.”
"These Arabs need to be butchered, enough is enough," said another member.
The police said in response: "In recent weeks, the Afula station has faced dozens of violent disturbances, including stone throwing, arson, police attacks and major roadblocks.“
“During that time, dozens of suspects were arrested and some indicted following information received by the Israel Police about young Jews planning to carry out a violent demonstration against Arabs," the police said.
“The Israel Police will continue to take decisive action against any incidents of violence and disorder that threaten public safety, and will detain any lawbreakers in order to bring them to justice."