A gang of Jewish teenagers were today jailed by an Israeli court for a 12-month campaign of neo-Nazi attacks.
The sentencing in Tel Aviv, which comes over a year after the arrest of the eight youths, closed a case that has sparked revulsion across the Jewish state.
The judge, Zvi Gurfinkel, sentenced the teens, aged 16 to 19, to between one and seven years in prison for a “shocking and horrifying” year-long spree of attacks that focused on foreign workers, gay people, ultra-orthodox Jews and homeless men.
The ring posted pro-Hitler video clips and recordings of their attacks on the internet. Its members also planned to attack Arabs.
They were arrested in September 2007 and reports said that searches of their homes unearthed Nazi uniforms, knives, guns and the explosive TNT.
Gang members had tattoos popular with white supremacists – including the number 88, code for “heil Hitler”, H being the eighth letter of the alphabet.
The charges against them included painting swastikas in a synagogue and planning a birthday party for Hitler.
They were charged with offences including conspiracy to commit a crime, assault, racial incitement and the distribution of racist materials.
The group were Jewish immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union. They migrated under Israel’s law of return, which allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to become a citizen.
One of the teenagers was the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
The court documents pointed to social adjustment difficulties as a factor behind the attacks.
The judge described the teens, all from Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, as “terrible”.
“The fact that they are Jews from the ex-Soviet Union and that they had sympathised with individuals who believed in racist theories is terrible,” Gurfinkel said as he handed down his verdict.
The gang leader, Erik Bonite, known as Ely the Nazi, received the maximum sentence.
Since the fall of Soviet communism in 1990, about 1m immigrants from Russia and the former USSR have moved to Israel. Some have risen to prominence in politics and industry while others struggle to integrate, including thousands not considered Jewish by religious authorities.