Arab bus driver hospitalized after assault by apparent anti-mask settler

Muhammad Kak says he asked man to mask up, but the latter, realizing he was Arab, started swearing at him, then attacked him mid-drive; police arrest 21-year-old suspect

Bus driver Muhammad Kak was assaulted near the West Bank town of Shvut Rachel, August 13, 2021. (courtesy)
Bus driver Muhammad Kak was assaulted near the West Bank town of Shvut Rachel, August 13, 2021. (courtesy)

A bus driver was violently attacked on Friday by a passenger who refused to wear a face mask, Hebrew-language media reports said.

“The passenger came onto the bus without a mask, and refused the driver’s request that he wear a mask while cursing at him. After the driver asked [him] not to swear, the passenger hit the driver with his phone,” the Egged Ta’avura bus company’s drivers committee said in a statement.

The incident occurred on the 461 bus line from Ariel to Jerusalem, near the entrance to the Shvut Rachel settlement, the Ynet news site reported.

The driver, Muhammad Kak, was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Photos showed blood on Kak’s face and shirt.

Kak said he asked the man to wear a mask since the bus, of a bulletproof variant, has no windows that open. Health experts have said that with limited ventilation, COVID-19 can more easily spread.

Kak said the man started swearing at him because he is Arab. “He told me ‘You are an Arab’ and cursed. While driving he jumped on me, and luckily did not cause an accident. He endangered my life and the lives of the passengers,” he told Ynet.

Illustrative: A bus is seen at the entrance of the Givat Assaf outpost in the West Bank, on December 17, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“He jumped on me and slammed his cell phone into my head and face. I started to bleed a lot until people came and subdued him,” he added.

The entry of buses to Shvut Rachel was halted by Egged’s management following the incident, in coordination with the police, media reports said,

Police said the suspect, 21, from the nearby West Bank settlement of Shiloh, was arrested shortly after the incident. He was brought before a court and his remand was extended until Monday.

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