Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Jail terms for Israeli neo-Nazis

Member of an Israel neo-Nazi cell (file pic, Israel Police)
The group took pictures of their neo-Nazi activities

Eight teenagers have been sentenced to time in jail by a court in Israel for carrying out a series of neo-Nazi attacks that shocked the nation.

The eight, aged from 16 to 19, were found guilty of attacking religious Jews, foreign workers, drug addicts and gay people and desecrating a synagogue.

The group, immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union, were sentenced to between one and seven years in jail.

Israel was founded in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust in which millions died.

One of those convicted was the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.

There was widespread revulsion in Israel when the existence of the neo-Nazi gang was revealed after their arrests in 2007.

Attacks filmed

Delivering his verdict, the judge at Tel Aviv district court said he handed down severe penalties in an effort to deter others from following their example.

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
Judge Tsvi Gurfinkel

Gang leader Erik Bonite, who is also known as Ely the Nazi, was sentenced to seven years in jail, the AFP news agency reported.

"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," Judge Tsvi Gurfinkel said as he handed down his verdict.

All eight lived in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, where the group made videos of their attacks and hoarded a cache of fascist memorabilia.

According to information released at the time, searches of their homes yielded Nazi uniforms, portraits of Adolf Hitler, knives, guns and TNT.

The gang members sported tattoos popular with white supremacists - including the number 88, code for Heil Hitler - H being the eighth letter of the alphabet.

Video clips found on computers seized by police showed the suspects dressed in typical skinhead neo-Nazi clothes, in the process of assaulting their victims, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.

They were charged with offences including conspiracy to commit a crime, assault, racial incitement and the distribution of racist materials.

The suspects all migrated to Israel under the Law of Return, which allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to become a citizen.

But their links to Judaism are slender, with most qualifying for citizenship through grandparents or distant family connections.

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