Israel Police Yet to Investigate Beating of Palestinian Taxi Driver

Ishaaq Abu Jabneh says he was assaulted in Jerusalem after he told young Jews he was an Arab.

Ishaaq Abu Jabneh, a taxi driver who was beaten up in Jerusalem, August 2016.
The Abu Jabneh family (Courtesy)

The police have not yet investigated an incident in which a Palestinian taxi driver was attacked in Jerusalem and his leg was broken – allegedly by Jews.

A week ago Friday morning Ishaaq Abu Jabneh, 36, was near Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem in his cab.

“I usually don’t go there because it’s known as a place where there’s a mess, but my friend bought a new car and I went down to congratulate him. I sat with him for maybe four minutes and five or six young people 23 or 24 came over and began to swear,” Abu Jabneh told Haaretz.

“They weren’t drunk, except for one. I went to talk to them; I asked ‘what’s the problem?’ They thought I was a Jew, they said to me ‘you’re a Jew, don’t interfere.’ I said I was an Arab and they began to curse me.”

Abu Jabneh, a father of three from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, described the confrontation between him and one of the young men.

“I know that in such situations you have to keep your hands behind your back so as not to get them mad, and that’s what I did. He didn’t stop swearing and told me: ‘Let’s take you somewhere where there aren’t any cameras and see what we’ll do to you,’” Abu Jabneh said.

Zion Square, Jerusalem
Emil Salman

“Another driver wanted to take me away from there, and then they attacked us – sprayed us with tear gas. I didn’t see a thing; I fell and just felt blows. They yelled ‘terrorist, terrorist.’”

The attackers left after a few minutes, Abu Jabneh says. His friends drove him to Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, where he was diagnosed with a complex leg fracture and bruises in a number of places on his body.

On Sunday Abu Jabneh is expected to have a screw implanted in his leg. He says one of his friends called the police when the attack began, but the police came only 10 minutes later. Even though one of the officers took down his details, the police have not contacted him and he has not been questioned, he says.

The police, for their part, say a number of taxi drivers at the scene refused to cooperate, and no one has come to them to complain about the incident.

Over the past two years, dozens of Palestinian taxi drivers have fallen victim to similar attacks but only a few indictments have been filed. In many cases the attacks have included the spraying of tear gas. Many drivers have left the business because of these assaults or have stopped working at night.

“A report was received by the police call center from a man who claimed that he and his friends were attacked by young people in the center of town,” the police told Haaretz in a statement.

“After a patrol car was sent to the scene, he told the officer he was not interested in ordering [an ambulance]. The police officers met a number of taxi drivers at the scene who refused to cooperate and did not need medical treatment. In addition, since the incident, no one has come to the police to complain about the incident, not even by telephone.”