Five ultra-Orthodox men suspected of defacing a monument in memory of the victims of one of two suicide bombings on bus No. 18 in Jerusalem continued to remain silent Sunday. The suspects were placed under house arrest and the police plan to file indictments against them. Two of the five suspects were said to be minors.
Two of the suspects were ordered to pay NIS 2,000 ($542) in bail, were banned from Jerusalem for 30 days and ordered not to take part in protests for half a year.
Their lawyer, Attorney Yair Nehorai, said the act was condemned by the Eda Haredit faction. "All the people I have spoken to in Eda Haredit, and I am talking about the community leaders, are strongly against such acts."
He added that the suspects denied their involvement in the incident. "The people I spoke to," he said, "would like to stress that such an act is wrong, it hurts families and its non-religious."
Police officers spotted the suspects uprooting the monument at around 8 pm Saturday, not far from the corner of Jaffa and Nordau streets in central Jerusalem.
The family members of Masudi Amar, who was killed in the terror attack, say they cannot understand what caused the young men to dishonor the memory of their loved one just like that.
Masudi Amar's widower, 80-year-old Meir Amar, told Ynet he expected the act to be answered with a harsh punishment. "I am no judge, but they are not religious as far as I am concerned. Why did they decide to destroy the monument in memory of my late wife of all things?"
Memorial uprooted on Saturday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
His son, Haviv Amar, said he was not interested in defaming anyone, but added that the family was in a lot of pain. "This place is really important for us. It tells what this city has been through, what we families have been through. We hope the memorial is restored quickly," he said.
Haviv added that he used to visit the place in the past and maintain the monument, but that it was now emotionally difficult for him. "The eye was always drawn to the monument. People would pass by and see the names. It was built shortly after the terrible attack. One must hope that such an incident will never repeat itself."
'It's ugly, but I'm against vandalism'
Citizens who contacted Ynet say this is not the first time the monument is defamed. Omer, who works in a nearby building, spotted the memorial uprooted three weeks ago. "It looked the same, exactly," he said.
"The monument is attached to the fence on the street level, which separates between a parking lot which is 2 meters deep underneath. What happened is that the monument was simply thrown into the parking lot. Last time I thought it had something to do with the light rail renovations, but now I understand what really happened."
He said that the monument's location bothered pedestrians. "I once asked myself who authorized its location, as it blocks the pavement and is extraordinarily ugly. Of course it must not be trashed like that, and I'm against any form of vandalism. But if it bothers someone, they should check who placed it that way and why. But definitely not to throw it beyond the fence. It's disrespectful."
On the morning of February 25, 1996, a suicide bomber blew himself up himself on a No.18 bus traveling down Jaffa Road near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Twenty-six people were killed and 48 injured.
On the morning of March 3, 1996, a suicide bomber boarded another No. 18 bus, detonating an explosive belt that killed 19 people and wounded 7.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report