Three youngsters from Haifa's haredi neighborhood of Kiryat Vishnitz were arrested last night over suspicions that they attacked two boys aged 12 and 14 who entered their neighborhood and told them: "Seculars aren't allowed here".
They are also suspected of locking the boys up in a storeroom and viciously beating them. The haredim have a different version – they claim the boys were harassing women and children in the local public park.
Haifa Police Commander Moshe Cohen said that worshipers leaving a synagogue assaulted and beat up a group of boys playing in the local park. The suspects then locked the boys in a storeroom, tied them up and continued beating them and abusing them for a long time.
Police received an anonymous call reporting the incident. Forces that arrived at the scene released the boys and arrested the suspects.
According to Commander Cohen, this isn't the first time young residents of the neighborhood, inhavbited by Vishnitz Hassidic disciples, pick on secular boys passing through the area. He said that the area was public property and that no man has the right to decide who may or may not enter.
He also refuted claims made by some neighborhood residents that the victims threw stones. Coastal Region Police Commander Ronny Atia said that "this is a vile crime carried out by a bunch of criminal thugs who brutally and savagely attack innocent children."
Meanwhile haredi residents in the neighborhood tell a different story. Rabbi Ben Zion Gendler who acts as the Kiryat Vishnitz spokesman told Ynet that the three suspects are innocent. "This is a false arrest of three innocent yeshiva students who at the time of the assault, were studying in the yeshiva and weren't involved in the brawl."
While he did condemn the attack, Rabbi Gendler claimed that those involved were 16 and 18-year-old teens "who took over the park while there were women and children there, they threatened the children and made scary noises."
Police are set to request to extend the suspects' remands. A search revealed that one of the suspects was carrying a knuckle duster while another suspect was carrying a knife. The victims were taken to receive medical attention.
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