Police in Haifa on Saturday arrested a 23-year-old Jewish suspect in an alleged attack on three Arab men at a beach in the city.
The three filed a complaint with police Thursday, saying they were relaxing at the beach the night before when they were approached by the suspect and nine of his friends, who asked them if they were Arabs and then proceeded to beat them.
The three victims, in their twenties, are a doctor and two nurses, residents of the town of Shfaram.
“They came over with chains, sticks and knives. There were about eight of them. They started hitting us without mercy,” one of them, identified only as ‘M,’ told Haaretz. He said the attackers shouted at them that they should not come to the beach.
Two other Jews who passed by managed to stop the attack and called police and an ambulance. The three victims were taken to hospital to receive medical attention for their injuries.
‘M’ said it was the first time he had encountered such violence. “How can someone ask someone what they are and then beat them?” he said. “Are we not allowed to be here because we’re Arabs? This is a public place and all Israelis are allowed. I was born here in Haifa.”
The head of the Joint (Arab) List party, Ayman Odeh, tied the incident to the recent controversial law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“The hidden clause in the nation-state law — attacks on Arabs based on racism. These are not fringe elements, but a reality under the auspices of government incitement policy,” he wrote.
Another Arab MK echoed his comments. “It’s not happenstance… This is the unavoidable result of the wild incitement and delegitimization led by the heads of government against the Arab public,” MK Aida Touma-Sliman said.
Police said it had launched an investigation into the case, and said they were aware of the identities of at least two other suspected attackers. The suspect was being brought before a judge Saturday for an extension of his remand.