Arab Israeli attacked for speaking Hebrew in East Jerusalem
In incident near home of murdered teen in Beit Hanina, Muhammad Abed A-Rahman also says his car was stoned
Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.
An Arab Israeli said he was attacked in East Jerusalem because he was speaking Hebrew on the phone near the home of a Palestinian teen murdered by Israeli extremists.
Muhammad Abed A-Rahman, 24, from the town of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem, said he had “dared” to speak Hebrew near the home of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, the Walla news site reported Thursday.
Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped and killed on July 1, 2014, two days after it emerged that three Israeli teens who had been abducted several weeks earlier in the West Bank, had been killed by their Palestinian kidnappers shortly after they were seized.
A-Rahman said a group of hooligans attacked his car while another vehicle blocked him to prevent his escape.
“I thought I was in a murder situation, they really lynched me,” said A-Rahman, who wears an Israel Defense Forces band on his wrist.
“I was driving in the direction of Shuafat [an Arab neighborhood in northeast Jerusalem]. I got a phone call, and I put earphones on,” he told the news site. “I spoke to someone about work.”
“After a few moments of talking, someone came up to me, put his hand on the car keys, and screamed at me in Hebrew: ‘Are you not ashamed? How can you speak Hebrew in Abu Khdeir’s neighborhood?’ I didn’t get it. I thought it was a joke, I still didn’t understand and I tried to explain to him in Arabic.
“Suddenly, a few cars arrived, stopped on the road, each one with a stick, they all came to me. Between seven to 10 people. You could see they’d been waiting for this. I tried to joke with them, to say what had happened that moment. To be honest, I was surprised, I was in shock when I saw people coming towards me. They threw stones at the car, a steel bar and whatever was in their hands. I also saw people with knives…clubs and steel rods.”
A-Rahman managed to photograph the car blocking him and to call the police, who rescued him. “It was only later that I understood that they had suspected I was a Jew,” he said. “They didn’t want to listen to me and apparently didn’t understand that I was an Arab. ”
A-Rahman claimed that a police officer in the Jewish neighborhood of Neve Yaakov asked him questions but suddenly stopped and said: “Maybe you’ll do a sulkha [traditional Arab reconciliation ceremony] with them?…Try to sort it out, and if it succeeds, it succeeds. If not, come and submit a complaint.”
A police spokesman said A-Rahman had refused to make a formal complaint and had said his family would organize a sulkha.
The police said they were investigating the incident and had asked him to provide his version of events and to supply medical documents, which he had not yet done.