Last week’s attack on Arab youth in the heart of Jerusalem was a symptom of a larger national issue, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said on Thursday.
Rivlin visited 17-year-old Jamal Julani, who was hospitalized after being severely beaten by a group of Jewish teenagers last week in the widely publicized incident.
“I came here to apologize,” Rivlin told Julani and his parents, who hail from East Jerusalem. “We believed that incidents like this were on the fringes, but that is not the case.”
Rivlin called the occurrence, in which a group of Arabs were assaulted by around 15 Jewish teenagers in the heart of Jerusalem while dozens of bystanders looked on, a “microcosm of a national problem that could endanger Israeli democracy.”
Julani was due to be released from the hospital on Thursday, a week after the attack. His doctors said that a preexisting heart condition caused him to suffer an irregular heartbeat after he took a severe blow to the chest, but that he was now in good condition.
Rivlin is the latest high-profile figure from Israel’s leadership to condemn the incident, which Jerusalem police said was an unprovoked, “extremely severe crime” that had been instigated only because the victims were Arabs. Eight minors suspected of being involved in the beatings of Julani and of two other Arab teens have been arrested.