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Neo nazi cell discovered in israel

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Police crack first neo Nazi cell ever discovered in Israel
By MATTHEW KALMAN - More by this author Last updated at 14:23pm on 10th September 2007

It seems almost unthinkable in the homeland created by the Jews after the terrors of fascism.

But Israel has a cell of neo-Nazis, accused of a string of attacks on foreign workers, orthodox Jews, drug addicts and gays.

The immigrants from the former Soviet Union are all Israeli citizens and have been arrested in connection with 15 assaults.

News of the arrests has shocked Israel, which was founded nearly 60 years ago in the wake of the Holocaust.

The discovery of anti-Semitism within its own borders has dominated Israeli newspapers and TV and radio news shows.

All of the suspects are in their late teens or early 20s, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Eight have been arrested and yesterday a court ruled that they should remain in custody.

Another has fled the country.

The gang documented its activities on film and in photographs, and Israeli TV stations showed grainy footage of victims lying helpless on the floor while several men kicked them.

Police found knives, spiked balls, explosives and other weapons in the suspects' possession, Mr Rosenfeld said.

One photo showed a suspect holding an M16 rifle in one hand and in the other, a sign reading "Heil Hitler".

Detectives discovered the skinhead ring after investigating the desecration of two synagogues in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva more than a year ago.

Police found the cell was in contact with fascist groups abroad, and materials seized include a German-language video about neo-Nazis in the U.S..

Group members wore tattoos of Celtic crosses - a symbol adopted by white supremacists.

They also bore tattoos of barbed-wire fences, and the number 88, code for Heil Hitler because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Another tattoo proclaimed "White Power."

Targets of their carefully planned attacks included workers from Asia, drug addicts, homosexuals, punks and Jews who wore skullcaps.

In one case the group discussed planning a murder, Mr Rosenfeld said, without providing details.

The group leader was named as Eli Boanitov, 19, of Petah Tikva.

In the past, there have been only isolated cases of neo-Nazi activity in Israel.

"This is the first time that we've arrested such a large number of individuals who are part of an organised neo-Nazi group," Mr Rosenfeld said.

The eight arrested youths immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return, which grants automatic Israeli citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.

Police said none of them were Jewish as defined by religious law.

All profess Christianity.

More than a million Jews immigrated from the former Soviet Union to Israel in the 1990s, and more than half a million in the 20 years before that.

Because of the high assimilation rate in the Soviet Union, many Jews there married non- Jews.

When they later moved to Israel, they took their spouses, children and grandchildren with them.

This means many from the former Soviet Union with questionable ties to Judaism have been allowed to immigrate.

Mr Rosenfeld said all of the suspects had "parents or grandparents who were Jewish in one way or another".

Israel doesn't have a hate crimes law, and suspects in past cases have been tried as Holocaust deniers, he added.

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