Arab Israeli Diplomat Says Jerusalem Security Guards Attacked Him, Knelt on His Neck

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi says 'no place for violence in Israeli society' after Ismail Khalidi, who has advocated for Israel in San Francisco and London, files complaint against guards in Jerusalem's central bus station

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דיפלומט משרד החוץ איסמעיל חאלדי ב-2008. המשרד קרא לחקירה מקיפה של התקרית
Ismail Khalidi. Credit: JD Lasica

A Bedouin diplomat filed a police complaint Sunday alleging that security guards in Jerusalem tackled him to the ground and knelt on him until he couldn't breathe.

Ismail Khalidi, a resident of the Bedouin village of Khawaled, served as Israel's envoy to San Francisco and London. Diplomat Yiftah Curiel tweeted that Khalidi had worked alongside him in London "in the most difficult and complicated position," responsible for advocating for Israel on "campuses and with BDS organizations, fighting haters of Israel every day."

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Khalidi was pinned to the ground by four guards in Jerusalem's central bus station, according to the police complaint. Three of the guards knelt on his neck, Khalidi told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, adding that he screamed "I can't breathe" until others in the station came to his help. He says he filmed the incident on his cellphone.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said he had been in touch with Khalidi following the police complaint.  “I spoke this morning with Ismail Khalidi, an esteemed, veteran diplomat, following the violence incident he experienced at Jerusalem’s central station and sought to encourage him,” said Ashkenazi. “There is no place for violence in Israeli society. I trust the law enforcement agencies to investigate this thoroughly.”

Jerusalem central bus station, May 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Israel's Foreign Ministry commented: "We are horrified by the incident and expect the Jerusalem police to investigate thoroughly." 

The Israel Police said the incident is being investigated and the people involved were questioned. Khalidi was also questioned under caution, after a security guard filed a complaint against him for refusing to identify to the guards.

Last year, an Israeli ambassador of Druze origins complained of humiliating racial profiling in Ben Gurion Airport.

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