A policeman was present during a mass brawl in Jerusalem Thursday night that nearly left an Arab teen dead, but reportedly did nothing to stop what officials are calling an attempted “lynch.”
An eighth person was arrested late Wednesday in the Zion Square incident which officials say nearly killed 17-year-old East Jerusalemite Jamal Julani. Police are continuing to investigate the beating, which has roiled the country over the racist nature of the attack.
Eyewitnesses said they called the police at the start of the brawl, some 40 minutes before Julani was severely beaten. As a result, a policeman arrived on a motorcycle, but he stood and watched without stopping the mob as violence unfolded, Maariv reported on Wednesday.
“He was right in the mess,” and could see and hear everything going on, one of the witnesses told the Hebrew daily. The policeman “saw how they [the mob] were chasing Arabs and hitting them, but he didn’t care,” the witness said.
Phone records from the night of the attack show that both witnesses spoke to the police dispatcher, Maariv wrote.
The police confirmed that the policeman arrived at the scene. A Jerusalem police spokesperson did not address the questions of whether he witnessed the beating and whether he intervened or not.
On Tuesday night, the police arrested a 17-year-old girl suspected of involvement in last week’s brutal beating. The police already stopped seven other teens, ranging in ages from 13 to 19.
Three of the previously arrested suspects were remanded into custody on Tuesday, while one girl was released to house arrest.
“He cursed my mother; I don’t care if he dies,” one of the suspects said at his hearing on Monday, referring to Julani. “There were 40 or 50 kids there, and they were all beating him. I was in the square, I was involved. If I catch him I’ll beat him. He’s an Arab.”
Police said they were increasingly convinced that the attack was unprovoked, and that Julani was set upon simply because he is an Arab.
The police said about 10-15 Jewish youngsters were involved in the attack, and a few dozen other people stood around watching. Police said the incident reflected profound hatred among Jewish youths in Jerusalem for local Arabs.
Chief Superintendent Ronen Avnieli of the Jerusalem Police said the events began at Kikar Hahatulot, a downtown square where young people often congregate, and ended at Zion Square, a few hundred meters away.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio on Sunday that he strongly condemned Thursday’s incident, but cautioned against jumping to early conclusions about the motive of the attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against the attack, and Education Minister Gideon Saar instructed schools throughout the country to talk about the incident in class as the school year begins next week.
“In the State of Israel we aren’t willing to tolerate racism and we aren’t willing to tolerate the combination of racism and violence,” Netanyahu said. “This is something that we cannot accept — neither as Jews nor as Israelis. This is not our way; this is opposed to our ways; and we condemn it in word and deed. We will quickly bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible incident.”
Asher Zeiger, Greg Tepper and Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.