Dozens Protest Fatal Shooting of Mentally Ill Israeli Arab Who Stabbed Hospital Guard

Leaders call for investigation into killing of disarmed citizen, citing institutionalized racism

Jack Khoury
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Mustafa's parents, Abir and Mahmoud, at the protest in Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, May 18, 2020.
Mustafa's parents, Abir and Mahmoud, at the protest in Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, May 18, 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Jack Khoury

Dozens of people demonstrated outside Sheba Medical Center on Monday to protest last week’s killing of a mentally ill Arab man by hospital security guards after stabbing one of them. The man's family, along with leaders of the Arab community in Israel, called for an investigation into what they believe was a murder enabled by racist law enforcement policies.

On Thursday, Mustafa Younis, 26, was at the hospital for a psychiatric examination. According to a police investigation, he pulled out a knife and threatened two people inside the hospital but did not hurt them. Security guards followed him and forcibly removed him from his car as he was about to leave, at which point Younis stabbed a guard in the head, injuring him lightly. After Yunis was disarmed and incapacitated on the ground, the guards shot him five or six times and killed him.

Security camera footage showing the killing.

Younis's mother, Abir, was a witness to her son's death and charged that people were trying to portray him as a terrorist when “he’s just a patient who came to get treatment, and because of an argument that began over not wearing a mask, he wound up dead.”

“The killing of Mustafa Younis joins dozens of cases in which Arab citizens have been killed by police and members of the security forces – 58 citizens since October 2000," said Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.

"The authorities have a very quick trigger finger when it comes to Arab citizens. The recurrence of such crimes proves that this isn’t a mistake, but a policy that filters from the top down to the least of the guards – a policy of institutionalized racism,” he added.

The family’s lawyer, Ahmad Hamza, said they plan to ask for an investigative judge to look into Younis’ death, because they don’t trust the police to do so. He accused police of rushing to put out a statement about the incident before they had thoroughly investigated it. “I and the other lawyers working on the case believe this was a murder,” he added.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) said the guards could have arrested Younis without shooting him. “Instead of arresting him alive, three guards shot him one after the other and confirmed the kill,” he said.

Mustafa's parents, Abir and Mahmoud, pray at the site of his death in Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, May 18, 2020.
Mustafa's parents, Abir and Mahmoud, pray at the site of Mustafa's death in Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, May 18, 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

So far, he continued, the guards haven’t been questioned as suspects in a crime, “and that’s an outrageous message.” Even Yigal Amir and Yishai Schlissel were detained alive, though their crimes were far worse, he added, referring respectively to the man who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the man who murdered 16-year-old Shira Banki during a Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.

Mudar Younis, head of the Ara Local Council, where the Younis lived, said the family and other residents of the area are demanding that the incident be investigated and that the shooters be put on trial.

The mayor, who also chairs an umbrella organization of Arab towns, added that the hospital director had contacted him and they are due to meet soon. “They told us this is a private security company, so we are demanding first and foremost that the hospital sever its connection with the company, and that the shooters be investigated,” he said.