Joint List says government responsible for ‘cruel lynching’ of Eritrean

Arab party condemns Beersheba terror attack, blames ‘state-sponsored incitement’ for shooting, beating of African migrant

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Security camera footage showing an Eritrean man being shot in the Beersheba central bus station on October 18, 2015, after he was thought to be a terrorist. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Security camera footage showing an Eritrean man being shot in the Beersheba central bus station on October 18, 2015, after he was thought to be a terrorist. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The Joint (Arab) List on Monday condemned the deadly terror attack at the Beersheba Central Bus Station on Sunday, and charged that the state-sponsored “environment of incitement and intimidation,” was responsible for the death of a bystander, an African migrant who was initially thought to be one of the attackers.

“We fiercely condemn and oppose the shooting and killing that took place at the Beersheba bus station,” Walla quoted the party as saying in a statement on Monday, a day after an Israeli Bedouin man opened fire at the station, killing an IDF soldier and wounding 11 others.

“The struggle of the Arab community in Israel is a political, popular, public and parliamentary one,” it said.

The coalition of Arab parties then slammed the current government for fostering an environment of “incitement and intimidation against the Arab population.”

Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015 a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19 was killed. (Courtesy)
Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015 a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19 was killed. (Courtesy)

The statement said the “cruel lynching” of the Eritrean asylum seeker who was mistaken for a terrorist, and accidentally shot by a security guard and then brutally beaten by a mob of bystanders, was a result of the same atmosphere.

Shortly after the attack, police determined that 29-year-old Haftom Zarhum was unconnected to the shooting spree.

“We once again call on the public, Arabs and Jews, to stand together in the fight against the horrors of occupation and hatred. The only way to achieve that is through ending the occupation and reaching a peace agreement guaranteeing independence and justice for two peoples,” the statement said.

Last week, Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh last requested Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of “inciting racial hatred and defamation” against the Arab leadership in Israel.

The appeal came after Netanyahu launched a scathing verbal attack on Arab lawmakers and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, accusing them of inciting the current bout of violence.

The prime minister is currently exploring options to outlaw the group in the wake of the violence and after the group’s leader openly endorsed acts of violence against Israelis.

While the majority of the terror attacks have been perpetrated by so-called “lone wolf” terrorists who are not affiliated with any Palestinian terrorist organizations, Netanyahu and other senior ministers in recent weeks have repeatedly blamed incitement by the Israeli Arab and Palestinian leadership for the current surge violence.

Along with Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli Arabs have taken part in protests against what Israel insists are unfounded rumors it intends to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, home to the al-Aqsa Mosque — considered to be the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

Netanyahu has on a near-daily basis said that Israel has not changed and will not change the status quo on the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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