Arab Jaffa resident shot dead by off-duty cop after apparent traffic dispute

Jacob Toukhy, 50, was ‘well-respected’ coexistence activist employed by US Agency for International Development; officer arrested, suspected of murder

Off-duty policeman, in shorts, beats Yacoub Tukhi, in helmet, before shooting him to death, in Jaffa, April 12, 2024. (Screen capture: X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Off-duty policeman, in shorts, beats Yacoub Tukhi, in helmet, before shooting him to death, in Jaffa, April 12, 2024. (Screen capture: X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An off-duty border police officer shot an Arab man dead in Jaffa on Friday amid an apparent traffic dispute that escalated to violence.

The policeman has been arrested and is being investigated on suspicion of murder, according to the Department of Internal Police Investigations (DIPI).

“Jacob Toukhy, a well-known and well-respected Jaffa resident, a social activist who volunteered in [the] Magen David Adom [ambulance service] for many years, was shot dead on the street last night,” Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai wrote on X on Saturday morning, calling the killing a “terrible incident that should not have happened.”

Huldai added that he was acquainted with the Toukhy family, some of whose members work in the municipality.

Footage that surfaced on social media shows Toukhy, clad in motorcycle helmet and paramedic uniform, lying on the ground on Jaffa’s central Yehuda HaYamit throughway, as the the policeman, in flip-flops, shorts, and a t-shirt, bashes him in the head. Another man separates the two, after which a car obscures them from view. Ten gunshots are then heard, and several people flee the scene.

Citing the police, the Ynet news site later identified the shooter as an off-duty Border Policeman who had scuffled with the victim over “use of the road.”

The Haaretz daily quoted a witness of the incident as saying the policeman “exited [his] vehicle after the paramedic’s motorcycle went off the sidewalk toward the crosswalk, and [the policeman] immediately started punching him.”

The attacker was then said to have hit Toukhy so hard that he broke the latter’s helmet. Toukhy stabbed the officer with a spike carried by paramedics to tear open patients’ clothes.

“When he brandished the spike we understood that we needed to separate them,” the witness told Haaretz. “Nobody knew that the other guy would pull out a gun and start shooting as the paramedic was pushed backward.”

The witness was further quoted claiming the officer “smelled of alcohol and appeared to have returned from the beach.”

In later footage, uniformed officers escorted the shooter away from the scene, still in civilian garb and with his face wrapped in a police uniform, as residents yelled “killer,” which the suspect responded to by aiming his gun at them.

Channel 12 reported on Saturday that several dozen protesters had assembled outside the Abu Kabir medical forensic center in Abu Kabir to protest what Abed Sattel, a cousin of Toukhy’s, described as DIPI’s delay in transferring the body from Wolfson Medical Center to Abu Kabir for an autopsy.

“We want to bury him today. According to the laws of Islam, the burial needs to happen as quickly as possible,” Satel told Channel 12.

Satel was also quoted by the Kan public broadcaster condemning the “cold-blooded murder.”

“If we had thought 10 times about a similar situation we would not have thought Yacoub would be the victim of such a murder. We despise murder,” said Satel, who also heads a non-profit foundation for Jaffa’s Arab community.

“We hope the court will bring the murderer to justice and put him behind bars,” added Satel.

Abed Satel, head of the League for the Jaffa Arabs, speak to the Kan public broadcaster about the killing of his cousin, Jacob Toukhy, by an off-duty policeman the day before, in Jaffa, April 13, 2024. (Screen capture: Kan, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Zo HaDerekh, a newsletter published by the binational Israeli Communist Party, reported that Jaffa’s Arab community leaders were convening an emergency meeting Saturday night to discuss the killing.

The leftwing publication said that Toukhy, who was 50, is survived by his wife and two daughters. He was said to have organized several Jewish-Arab coexistence-themed events at the United States embassy, where he was employed as a driver.

He was specifically employed by the US Agency for International Development, which called him “a dedicated member of our team for more than two decades.”

“We are working with the U.S. Embassy to ascertain further details about this fatal incident and how it will be investigated,” USAID adds.

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