Israeli Arabs Say Assaulted by Eight Men Who Asked if They Were Arabs

One arrested after alleged attack forced three men to be hospitalized

File photo: The emergency entrance at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Hagai Frid

Police on Saturday arrested a suspect who was allegedly among a group that attacked three Israeli Arabs, reportedly after asking whether they were Arabs.

A resident of the Arab-majority city of Shfaram said that on Thursday, he and two friends were assaulted at a beach in Haifa's Kiryat Haim neighborhood.

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The eight assailants were armed with chains, sticks, and knives, one of the men, who asked to be identified by the initial M., who is a resident physician at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, told Haaretz. According to M., a man approached him and two friends on the beach and asked if they were Arabs. After M. confirmed that they were, the man walked away and called the police, telling them that he felt threatened, M. said.

M. quoted the attackers as saying that Arabs should not be at the beach and that they should go to their "own places." He could not recall how long the assault lasted, which he said only stopped when two Jewish passersby approached to assist the three men. "I thought one of my friends was dead," M. recounted. "They beat his head and he wasn't responding."  The passersby called police and emergency services, he said.

The three men were hospitalized at Rambam Medical Center: M. for nine hours, and the others on Friday night. After his release, M. returned to the scene of the attack to search for his car keys and the victims' phones. He found the keys and one phone, but the phone used to call the police was missing.

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"I'm lying in bed, unable to walk, with bruises all over my body," M. said. "I'm supposed to work today and I can't." He added that it was the first time he had encountered such violence and noted that he was born in Haifa.

Authorities said a police vehicle arrived at the scene of the attack within minutes.

Images posted online that purportedly showed injuries inflicted during the attack showed gashes on two men's heads, including one that had been closed by a surgical staple.