Police in central Israel on Sunday arrested three Arab men over an attack on another Arab man, rejecting his claim that he was beaten up by Jews in a nationalistic attack earlier in the day.
The police dismissed allegations by Imaad Abu Sharekh, 55, that he was beaten up outside a Lod mosque for nationalistic motives, instead maintaining that the attack was the result of a local family conflict, according to Hebrew media reports. The investigation is continuing and additional arrests are expected to be made.
According to Abu Sharekh, he was attacked by three people, one of whom hit him with an iron rod.
Abu Sharekh said that the assailants screamed anti-Arab remarks during the attack, including “Drive out the Arabs,” reported Hebrew-language news site Walla.
Abu Sharekh said he unsuccessfully tried to defend himself against the attackers, who left him bleeding after the attack. Neighbors then transported him to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center where he received first-aid care for light injuries.
“I was bleeding from my head and every part of my body,” recounted Abu Sharekh.
The assault came on the heels of two deadly attacks apparently by Jewish extremists, including the firebombing of a home in a Palestinian village that left an 18-month-old baby dead.
Abu Sharekh’s daughter was quoted by Channel 2 News as saying that the assailants, whom she called the “settlers of Lod,” were known to the family and that her father would be able to identify them.
Lod, a working-class town about 12 kilometers ( 7 miles) outside of Tel Aviv, has a mixed Jewish and Arab population. In recent years, a number of national religious Jews have moved into the city as a group to strengthen its Jewish character, sometimes igniting tensions with Arab neighbors.
After gathering testimony from Abu Sharekh at the hospital, the police opened an investigation, detaining three Arab suspects for questioning hours later.
Abu Sharekh said that he was not involved in any conflicts and that the only possibly reason for his attack is that he is Arab and Muslim.
Arab Joint List Member of Knesset Ayman Odeh blamed the Israeli government and right-wing politicians for the attack in Lod.
“The racist and anti-democratic dialogue of the ministers and the MKs from the right gives the green light to hooligans…. The finger of blame needs to be pointed at the government and its leader,” he said.
According to Channel 2, Abu Sharekh was active in the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
Abu Sharekh’s daughter told Ynet that a demonstration was being organized in response to the attack to protest anti-Arab discrimination and violence.