Weinstein recommends compensation for family of lynch victim
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Weinstein recommends compensation for family of lynch victim

Attorney general says state should offer terror victim benefits to Haftom Zarhum’s relatives, despite formal ineligibility

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

A woman mourns at a memorial in south Tel Aviv on October 21, 2015 for Haftom Zarhum, an Eritrean man who was mistaken for a terrorist. Zarhum was shot and then beaten by an angry mob. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
A woman mourns at a memorial in south Tel Aviv on October 21, 2015 for Haftom Zarhum, an Eritrean man who was mistaken for a terrorist. Zarhum was shot and then beaten by an angry mob. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein recommended Wednesday that the family of an Eritrean man mistakenly shot by security forces and then brutally beaten by a mob during a terror attack last week be compensated by the state, despite a previous ruling they were ineligible for benefits.

Haftom Zarhum, who died from the gunshot wound, had entered the country illegally, making him technically ineligible for recognition as a terror victim. Weinstein, however, said in a legal opinion presented to the National Insurance Institute that there were legal grounds for offering his family monetary compensation due to Zarhum’s death being a consequence of a terror act.

Last week, the Defense Ministry said that since Zarhum did not have a permit to reside in Israel, he did not meet the criteria established in law for recognition as a “victim of hostilities,” a status that confers on his family financial benefits.

The Victims of Hostilities Law recognizes a person who was accidentally shot or harmed “due to hostile action by enemy forces” as eligible for benefits from the state. However, the law explicitly defines an eligible victim of hostilities as a resident of Israel, an Israeli citizen or a person who entered Israel with a visa or permit.

Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015, a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19, was killed. (Courtesy)
Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015, a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19, was killed. (Courtesy)

Twenty-nine-year-old Zarhum died in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba after he was shot and beaten by bystanders during the October 18 terror attack at the Beersheba central bus station. Videos from the incident showed Zarhum attempting to flee the scene, only to be gunned down and then kicked repeatedly in the head by a crowd in the bus station.

Four suspects in the beating, including two officers in the Israel Prisons Service, were arrested last Wednesday and face aggravated assault charges. Zarhum’s autopsy concluded he was killed by the mistaken shooting, not the beating.

The four suspects were released on bail Thursday and are expected to be indicted in the coming days.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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