Arab Egged bus drivers in Jerusalem strike after suicide

Delays reported in the capital, expected to continue through Tuesday, bus company says

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative: Passengers boarding an Egged bus in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Passengers boarding an Egged bus in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Many Palestinian bus drivers in Jerusalem did not show up for work on Monday, after an East Jerusalem bus driver was found hanged overnight in what an autopsy showed to be a suicide.

Egged, the transportation company, said that delays were expected to continue through Tuesday, and said it would call up other drivers to run the routes vacated by the drivers on strike.

“Following the regrettable death of an Egged bus driver, who ended his life, there are disruptions in the public transportation in Jerusalem. These disruptions are due to the absence of drivers from the Arab population, from East Jerusalem,” the bus company said in a statement.

Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, 32, was found hanging from a rope inside a bus at a depot for Israeli transportation company Egged late Sunday night, sparking rumors that he was killed by Jewish extremists, and setting off riots in East Jerusalem. An autopsy on Monday evening ruled out the possibility of foul play.

#صورة يوسف الرموني "أبو جهاد" 32 عاماً والذي وجد مشنوقاً في حافلة إيجد التي يعمل سائق لها في #القدس المحتلة

Posted by ‎شهاب‎ on Sunday, November 16, 2014

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that the post-mortem examination at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute proved the incident was “not criminal related whatsoever” and that Ramouni’s body was handed over to his family for burial. Ramouni’s family, however, rejected the findings.

Earlier Monday, police said that no signs of violence were found on the body of the driver, contrary to various reports, and that suicide was suspected. The man’s family dismissed both claims in an interview with Palestinian media, and pictures published by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency purported to show bruises on Ramouni’s body.

Just hours after the body was found, riots broke out in several East Jerusalem neighborhoods. A number of Palestinian organizations in East Jerusalem had called for a general strike that would also include Palestinian bus drivers, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet.

The suicide sparked widespread unconfirmed reports online of a lynching by Israelis.

Ramouni was a father of two from Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood. His family said he was not suicidal.

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