Memorial Held in Tel Aviv for Asylum Seeker Killed After Being Mistaken for Terrorist

Asylum seekers gather in Levinsky park to mourn the death of Habtom Zarhum; a government committee will look into whether to compensate his family.

David Bachar

Some 2,000 people, mainly asylum seekers from Eritrea, gathered in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky park on Wednesday for a memorial service for Habtom Zarhum, the Eritrean asylum seeker who died after being shot and assaulted by a mob at the Be’er Sheva bus terminal on Sunday night.

The participants lit memorial candles and several spoke of the deceased, although few knew him personally. Zarhum had been mistaken for an assailant and shot eight times before being beaten. Some demanded that those who beat him as he was lying on the ground in a pool of blood be brought to trial.

Some of the mourners wept and told Haaretz they did not believe Zarhum was killed accidentally. “I’ve never seen such a thing, only in the Sinai or in the Islamic State,” said Eden, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, referring to the video clips of Zarhum’s killing. “If they had shot him once it might have been a mistake, but shooting him again and again is not a mistake. People trampled on him and threw things at him. The police were there. Why didn’t they stop it?” she said.

“If he had been white they would have taken him to a doctor right away,” said another attendee.

Haftom Zarhum, who was killed by a mob wrongly suspecting him of terrorism on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.

The Defense Ministry and National Insurance Institute issued a statement saying the state would not recognize Zarhum as a terror victim because he entered Israel illegally. They announced that a committee will examine the case to ascertain whether any compensation fees would be paid to Zarhum’s family, although the state isn’t obliged to do so by law.