Israeli Police Detain Five in Brawl at Beach, Witness Says Teens Shouted 'Death to Arabs'

People threw stones as cleaners hid in a prefab structure, witness says ■ Brawl began after cleaners asked teenagers to lower music, investigation finds

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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A beach at the Sea of Galilee, August 8, 2020. Those photographed are unrelated to the incident.
A beach at the Sea of Galilee, August 8, 2020. Those photographed are unrelated to the incident.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Five people were detained on Tuesday on suspicion they were involved in a brawl at a Sea of Galilee beach that, according to an initial investigation, erupted after cleaners asked teenagers to turn down the volume of their music. 

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According to witness Bassam Zoabi, the work supervisor at the beach, at one point the the cleaners hid in a prefab structure, with some 200 people gathering around. He said people threw stones at the structure and yelled “death to Arabs,” and that pepper spray was used. Local authorities confirmed that stones and tear gas were used and calls of “Death to Arabs” were heard. The police, however, sai dthe cleaners didn’t complain about slurs or stones.

The five suspects, two boys aged 15 and 16 and three cleaners, were released with restrictions and ordered to stay away from the beach. None of those involved required medical attention.

“The cleaning workers and their shift supervisor, who were collecting trash, came to a group of youths and asked them to turn off the music because it’s a quiet beach, and [the youths] jumped them,” said Zoabi. “The workers hid in the caravan. When I got there, I saw 200 people throwing stones at the caravan and yelling. If we hadn’t gotten there they would have set them on fire.”

Zoabi was critical of the police. “Who did the police take? The took the cleaning workers for questioning. They were questioned from 1:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M.. They didn’t arrest even one of the 200 who attacked [them].”

He said that the racism exhibited during the incident is not new, although on Tuesday things escalated further than usual. “Every night people shout ‘Death to Arabs.’ It’s been like that for a month already,” he said.