Tonight, a report in Yediot Achronot by Sokolov Award-winning journalist, Yigal Sarna, offers more circumstantial evidence that Hasan al-Ramuni, the East Jerusalem Egged bus driver found hung in his bus, was murdered. For the basic elements of the story, read my last post here.
Sarna writes his story as a Tale of Two Cities, one Jewish and one Palestinian. Just as in Dickens the two cities are separated by class, wealth, and status, so Jerusalem is divided by race, religion and ethnicity. As Sarna moves from one part of the divided city to another, his observations are sad, almost elegaic, about the opportunities lost by both communities. It’s Israeli journalism at its finest.
At the scene of the crime, which took place in the same neighborhood as the Har Nof synagogue terror attack, Sarna met investigators for the Israeli human rights NGOs, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Ir Amim.
This is a translation of excerpts of Sarna’s report:
“The bus driver was found dead,” the Palestinian investigator told me, “a few hours after the Bratslav Hasid was stabbed (Hebrew). This too is a reason we believe this [al-Ramuni’s killing] was an act of revenge.” According to his investigation, a dispatcher and another driver found him [al-Ramuni] strangled and [his body] almost seated, because the bus was too short for hanging. “He was strangled with thin twine, not appropriate for hanging, which cut into his flesh.”
…Even if the police claim of suicide is correct, the Palestinians accept only one version, that he was murdered by Jews. And that is what fans the flames. This was also the same day that Bentzi Gopstein, one of the primary agitators in Jerusalem against employing Arab workers, was photographed brandishing a noose. The picture was later removed from his Facebook page.
…As I made my way home through alleyways filled with Israeli SWAT teams wearing body armor, as a single elderly Palestinian street sweeper swept among them, I was reminded what the two NGO investigators had told me about a series of attacks against “Arab” bus and taxi drivers. They work alone among Israelis every day. Even the bus driver found strangled had complained in the past about being attacked.
It’s unfortunate that NGO investigators are the only ones continuing to pursue this case. The Israeli police have forgotten it, even closed it. They have no interest in proving anything other than suicide. This rush to judgment will be further proof in the minds of Palestinians that there is no justice for them in Israel.
UPDATE: Interesting that the Israeli police, the very ones who’ve whitewashed this case, are attempting to strongarm the Palestinian pathologist who said he believed al-Ramuni was murdered. Apparently, in Israel if police don’t like what you have to say they can browbeat you into submission. Imagine threatening a medical professional with arrest, interrogation and prison (or God knows what other forms of harassment they have in store for him) because he offers his opinion on a matter within his field. If only the police would treat all the other Israeli Jewish generals, politicians, and police officers who actually lie to the public the same way!
I challenge the authorities to allow an independent forensic pathologist from abroad to examine the body and conduct any relevant tests. Such an individual could not be pressured, hectored or bullied. If his or her opinion supports Israel’s that should go a long way to put to rest any doubts about the cause of death. If this does not happen, then no amount of police bullying will stop Palestinians from drawing the proper conclusions.