Israeli held in Taiwan for over a month after violent road incident

Lior Ben Yosef clashed with another driver on his way to work; his family says he was attacked and stabbed by the second man, who apparently accuses him of initiating the fight

Lior Ben Yosef in an undated photo (Facebook)
Lior Ben Yosef in an undated photo (Facebook)

An Israeli man living in Taiwan has been jailed there for over a month for a violent incident, his family told Israeli TV on Thursday.

Lior Ben Yosef, 31, from the central city of Petah Tikva, was detained by authorities in the small Asian island nation, apparently after an altercation with another driver on the road.

Ben Yosef has a cosmetics business in Taiwan. The incident began when he was riding a motorcycle on his way to work, his sister Michal Sharon told Channel 12 news. She said that when Ben Yosef reached a red light, he crossed the stop line slightly, which apparently upset one of the other drivers.

Sharon said the local man shouted at Ben Yosef that “this is not the way to behave in Taiwan. According to her, her brother then drove on, but the man drove after him, attempted to knock him off his motorcycle, and then blocked his way.

A physical confrontation erupted between the two, during which Ben Yosef was stabbed in the hand, according to the sister. Ben Yosef then hit the man. She did not mention whether he sought medical attention or was hospitalized for his injury.

According to Channel 12, three days after the incident local police contacted Ben Yosef’s girlfriend in an attempt to find out details, and he went to a police station on his own initiative to tell his side of the story. He was detained at that point and has been in custody since.

“He’s in a very bad mental state,” another sister, Maya Naor, told Ynet. “He’s very emotional and very gloomy. He’s willing to give up everything, his money, his business, everything he has [there], if they just let him go back to Israel.

“My brother loves Taiwan. He built a business there and wanted to build a family, but now he just wants to go home.”

Naor said her brother is suspected of assault and theft due to a complaint by the other driver, though it is unclear what he is alleged to have stolen

The Foreign Ministry said it is aware of the case and that its representatives in Taiwan have visited Ben Yosef and are monitoring developments. However, it stressed that on legal matters, the family must work through its local lawyer.

The case comes in the wake of the much-publicized arrest in Turkey of Natali and Mordi Oknin, who were held for eight days on suspicion of espionage after they photographed a presidential palace.

The Israeli government was intensely involved in efforts to secure the couple’s release, amid fears they could face years in jail on trumped-up charges.

But it does not, as a rule, intervene so strongly in every case involving Israelis’ arrests abroad. And Taiwan, unlike Turkey, is seen as a strong democracy whose legal system can generally be trusted.

According to statistics issued by Channel 12 Thursday, 302 Israelis are currently jailed or detained abroad.

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