By Brittani Howell

Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East

JERUSALEM, Israel – Last Sunday, an Eritrean migrant was shot and then brutally beaten by a mob. The Eritrean migrant, Habtom Zerhom, was mistaken as a second attacker in an incident at a bus station in Beersheba.

Israeli security forces stand at the divide between a Jewish neighborhood and Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

Zerhom took cover in the bus station amid the chaos. A security video shows Zerhom crawling in all fours around a kiosk when he was shot. A security guard, mistaking Zerhom as an additional attacker, ran at Zerhom and opened fire.

While Zerhom lay on the floor, a mob of people began to kick him and through things at him. The mob then rammed him with a bench, as Zerhom lay on the floor helpless. Israeli police officers and a few passers-by attempted to protect Zerhom from the mob.

Meir Saka, a passer-by who tried to protect Zerhom, told Channel 10 TV, “It doesn’t matter if it was a terrorist or not. It was a man lying on the ground that couldn’t move. I couldn’t sleep at night, from seeing him, his blood.”

According to doctors at Soroka Medical Center, Zerhom died from the bullet wound in combination with the injuries he sustained from being kicked repeatedly. One man who had participated in the mob attack told Israeli Army Radio that, “If I had known he wasn’t a terrorist, believe me, I would have protected him like I protect myself.” He continued, I didn’t sleep well at night. I feel disgusted.”

Israeli police announced that there will be an investigation to determine who was involved in the mob attack against Zerhom. Luba Samri, Israeli police spokeswoman, stated “It should be noted that the police see this in a very severe light and will not allow people to take the law into their own hands.”

The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, in response to the bus station shooting, told all licensed gun owners to carry their weapons to assist an overstretched security force. This has drawn complaints from critics, who argue that this aids to an already charged atmosphere. A Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, stated, “They are creating a mentality of lynch mobs and of course feeding the culture of hate and racism.”

Currently, there are as many as 34,000 Eritrean migrants in Israel. Israel has refused to give them refugee status, and instead classifies them as migrant workers but has not deported them because of the dangerous situation in Eritrean.

For more information, please see:

CNN – Netanyahu After Mob Beating: ‘No One Will Take Law into his Own Hands’ – 19 October 2015

Reuters – Eritrean Mistaken for Gunman Killed in Israel Bus Station Attack – 19 October 2015

The New York Times – Fatal Beating of Eritrean Prompts Soul-Searching in Israel – 19 October 2015

The Washington Post – Israel Probes Mob Assault on African Bystander Shot Amid Latest Violence – 19 October 2015

Author: Impunity Watch Archive