An Indianapolis woman was arrested on Friday after allegedly crashing her car into a school she mistakenly believed was a Jewish school with ties to Israel, police said.
Ruba Almaghtheh, 34, was arrested on a charge of criminal recklessness after allegedly telling officers she purposefully crashed into the building, which displayed a sign out front reading, “Israelite School of UPK,” a representative with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told HuffPost. She reportedly told responding officers that she’d been “watching the news and couldn’t breathe anymore,” and targeted the building because she thought it was an “Israel school,” the police statement reads.
Extremism experts noted that the building was actually home to the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, which multiple watchdogs describe as a radical and antisemitic sect of Hebrew Israelites.
The Southern Poverty Law Center — which refers to the Black Hebrew Israelites as “Radical Hebrew Israelites” — designates the sect hate group, citing their antisemitic and anti LGBTQ+ beliefs.
The building was reportedly occupied at the time of the attack, but nobody was injured, police said.
Police said Almaghtheh was taken into custody on preliminary charges and that the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will determine whether or not to pursue additional charges.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Almaghtheh would be charged with a hate crime; IMPD has notified the FBI for awareness.
The Jewish Federation of Indianapolis said in a press release that they were made aware of the incident that occurred on Friday and are working alongside law enforcement.
“Although a Jewish facility was not targeted, solely due to ironic misidentification, this is yet another reminder to maintain security protocols, remain vigilant of suspicious activity and to report same promptly to the appropriate authorities,” the statement read.
It’s unclear whether or not Almaghtheh has retained an attorney, but inmate records show that she is set to make her first court appearance on Wednesday.
Since the Oct. 7 surprise attack launched by Hamas on Israel, reports of both anti-jewish and anti-muslim hate related incidents have increased across the U.S.
According to a press release by The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), they received 774 complaints, including reported bias incidents, since the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine, calling it one the “largest wave of complaints” since former president Donald Trump declared his “Muslim Ban.”