Drunken Brawls Keep Police Busy During TA Nights

As the clock hands creep past midnight and the night shift starts, there are still some hopes this is going to be a quiet one. "It looks like a weak night, not many people are out. Maybe they're toning down ahead of Yom Kippur. Even the drunks don't have anyone to pick a fight with," says Superintendent Komi Jibli, chief of the criminal division for Tel Aviv's Yiftach district.

But shortly after he makes his wish, a violent two-and-half-our spree begins, with three stabbings in the small clubbing district of Yad Harutzim alone.

The first call comes at around 1:20 A.M. - a stabbing on Elipelet Street near Yad Harutzim. The patrol that rushes to the scene finds a young Arab man. He says he has been stabbed by a bunch of Russians who escaped. He is suffering from a cut hand and is taken to the hospital, but the screams of his panic-stricken sister prompt the neighbors to complain about the noise. No suspects are apprehended.

An hour later, a worker at an all-night kiosk is robbed under knifepoint in the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall. The robber escapes on a bicycle with hundreds of shekels, but at least no one is hurt.

At 2:45 A.M, patrol cars rush to the Allenby 40 club, where apparently a youth who was asked to pay for his drinks responded by smashing a glass into the barmaid's face. "She managed to tilt her head at the very last moment, so she's only very lightly bruised," says Superintendent Ronen Abergil, the beat officer for clubs in the Yarkon district. "But the club was crowded and the guy escaped without being noticed by the guard."

Back at the Yad Harutzim area, a stabbing at the club Ribal is reported at 3:08 A.M. A security guard trying to break up a fight is stabbed by an 18-year-old Arab. While being removed from the club the teen stabs the guard again, this time with a broken glass to the ribs, and escapes. He is located by two mounted policemen a few streets away. They block his path with their horses and arrest him.

The suspect, Mohammed Kahil, is well known to the police. He is completely drunk, picks a fight with the policeman and explains at length what he thinks about them and their mothers. He concludes by bashing his head against a Border Police patrol car windshield, and is taken into custody.

Beaten senseless

Just 20 minutes later, a massive drunken brawl kicks off at an Ethiopian club on Shontzino Street. The patrol that responds to the call finds an unconscious Russian youth beaten senseless with brass knuckles. The attackers cannot be found by now, and the young man is taken to Ichilov Hospital.

Jibli takes pity on the tired reporter and photographer, taking us to the Aroma all-night cafe near the Haaretz office. But even before we get through our sandwiches comes the toughest job of the night. A Sudanese refugee in his 30s is attacked by youths near a migrant workers' nightclub. Their weapons of choice are concrete bricks, broken glass and rocks. Mirit Zanduri, a policewoman on patrol, saw the attack happening and gave chase, apprehending two of the attackers.

It's 7 A.M. and Jibli is making his final round of the nightclub area. Most clubbers are at home, but some Ethiopian youths, mostly drunk, are still hanging around between piles of garbage and empty alcohol bottles. On our way back to police headquarters, not far from where the Sudanese man was attacked, a drunken youth positions himself in front of Jibli, demanding that he "get out of the way". He's too intoxicated to understand how close he is to the detention cell.

"If you take into account that we normally have 10 to 12 violent incidents in this clubbing district on any given Friday night, we're not even up to the regular statistics yet," says Jibli as we part ways.