Police are set to charge a 21-year-old man with the murder of a teenager in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona last month.
Police said on Friday they had completed their investigation into the murder of 18-year-old Yoel Lhanghal, who was stabbed during a fight at a birthday party in the city, less than a year after immigrating to Israel from India.
Police filed a prosecutor’s statement against the suspect, a resident of Kiryat Shmona recently released from the military.
Prosecutors are expected to file murder charges in Nazareth District Court in the coming days.
Shimon Zion, the defendant’s attorney, said his client had no criminal record and would fight the charges, noting there were others involved in the fight in which Lhanghal died .
Get the daily edition of The Times of Israel
by email and never miss our best stories
By registering, you agree to the terms
“Although the state has declared its intention to indict him, I intend to fight a legal battle for his innocence. The prosecution is wrong in that, out of dozens of people involved, they decided to charge him,” Zion said.
Lhanghal was stabbed at a party in Kiryat Shmona in October.
A police investigation following the incident revealed officers initially arrived at the party in response to a call they received from guests claiming Lhanghal was abusing his girlfriend.
When officers arrived, they saw that was fake and instead had to break up a fight between Lhanghal and other party guests.
Lhanghal’s girlfriend, named only Hadassah, told Channel 12 that guests threw a glass of ice cream at her, which angered her.
“So they started fighting each other. All the Israelis jumped – one by one they jumped on Yoel. After that I saw the blood and he showed me his teeth, his teeth were broken,” she said.
After telling Lhanghal and the others to keep their distance from each other, police said they believed the issue was resolved and left the scene.
Shortly after they left, the fight resumed and Lhanghal was stabbed.
According to Hadassah, the attackers were “prepared for battle”, arriving at the party with helmets, iron bars and rocks.
“I really wanted to move and get up to help him, but I couldn’t help him,” she told the network.
Following the events, an investigation revealed that the conduct of the officers involved in the incident was improper.
Northern District Police Chief Shuki Tahauko recommended the removal of Kiryat Shmona Police Chief Nir Sasson, and Sasson’s deputy received a reprimand in his permanent record.
The duty officer who arrived at the scene after the first report of a fight was also removed from duty after being suspected of obstructing the course of justice. According to the Kan public broadcaster, the officer’s daughter was in a relationship with the main suspect.
Lhanghal was a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community from a remote region in northeast India.
Initial reports suggested the attack may have been racially aggravated, but the expected charges reported did not reflect this.
The Bnei Menashe are believed to be descended from the Biblical Tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel over 2,700 years ago. In 2005, then-Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar endorsed the claim of Bnei Menashe of Jewish ancestry, but forced them to convert to Judaism.
Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe immigrated to Israel in recent years, and another 7,000 remained in India.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
. man will be indicted for having stabbed dead the teenager Yoel Lhanghal party Kiryat Shmona