A man assaulted while waiting in a clinic in a predominantly Arab town in northern Israel says he was attacked because he was Jewish, and police are investigating the incident as a nationalistic attack.
The incident, recorded on security cameras, happened on September 9 at a Maccabi health clinic in Kfar I’blin. The victim, who was waiting to see an orthopedic doctor, says he was punched in the side of the head for no reason, and the attack left him sprawled on the ground with a concussion.
“The only thing that distinguished me from everyone else in the waiting room was that I am Jewish,” the victim told Channel 2 news in an interview aired Sunday.
Police arrested Mohammed Mariset, who refused to cooperate with the investigation. Police suspect the attack was connected to the victim’s religion, according to Channel 2.
Lawyer and right-wing activist Itamar Ben Gvir, who is representing the victim, decried the lack of attention that the incident received.
“There is no doubt that if the picture was reversed and it was a matter of a Jew who attacked an Arab, we would hear about President Shimon Peres sending him a letter, Tzipi Livni who would have already gone to visit and even the chief rabbis would come for a solidarity visit,” he said in the report.
Ben Gvir is known for taking nationalistic and extremist positions. He recently ran for Knesset with the ultra-nationalist Otzma Leyisrael (Power to Israel) party, which was criticized for taking anti-Arab positions, and in 2012 he heckled the granddaughter of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin outside a memorial ceremony for her grandfather.
The victim said he was in the Kfar I’blin clinic because he was unable to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist closer to his home, in the Haifa area.
According to him, he spoke briefly with another patient waiting in the clinic and kept himself busy by browsing on his mobile phone. Then, seemingly without any warning, Mariset, who was also sitting across the room, got up from his chair and forcefully punched the victim in the side of his head, before calmly returning to his seat.
In the surveillance video, which has no sound, the stunned victim could be seen collapsing to the floor as other patients rush to confront the attacker before assisting the stricken man. A medical check-up later revealed that the victim suffered a concussion from the blow.