The three victims, a doctor, a nurse and another man from the northern town of Shfaram told police Thursday that while they were on the beach in Kiryat Haim a man asked them if they were Arabs. When they said yes, the suspect left and returned with nine other people who beat the three Arabs with knives and metal bars while shouting offensive words.

“Regardless of a person’s religion, race or gender, an individual must be treated as a human being,” said the uncle of the three victims during his meeting with Yair Alaluf, who along with another man separated the attackers from the victims. Alaluf also called the police and an ambulance.

“I want to thank you on behalf of all the residents of Shfaram for your generosity,” said the uncle, “We hope there will be more people like you and that we can put an end to all these abhorrent events.

A 23-year-old man, a resident of Nesher near Haifa, was placed under house arrest for three days.

A second suspect, also 29, of Nesher, who was detained by police on Saturday, but was sent to house arrest on Sunday after the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to justify his detention.

The suspect claimed that he was not on the beach at the time of the attack and that he had no “idea” why he had been arrested.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman (Facebook)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the incident during a visit to the Arab city of Kafr Kassem and called on the police to complete the investigation as soon as possible.

“We must understand that things can get out of control because of the extremism that is prevalent in the area,” Rivlin told residents. “We are all destined to live here together in this country and we are not sentenced to live like this.”

“Good citizens who wake up every morning and save lives, have fun on the beach and are attacked for being Arabs. I wish the racists who attacked them a long prison sentence,” Zionist Union President Avi Gabbay wrote on Twitter.

“They came with knives, with metal bars. They just started hitting us for no reason,” said one of the victims. “This was an attack for nationalistic reasons.”

Another victim said it was the first time she had encountered such violence. “How can anyone ask someone else their race? Are we forbidden to be here because we’re Arabs? This is a public place, for everyone.