Israel Channel 2 News interviewed one of the mob who lynched and murder Habtom Zarhoum at a Beersheba bus station. He had come to Beersheba from his home to attempt to get a work visa from a government office. As he waited for a bus, a Palestinian stabbed and killed an IDF soldier and then began attacking bystanders. Bus station security guards then shot and wounded Zarhoum, an innocent bystander. The shooter claimed that he did so because Habtom didn’t appear like the other victims who were fleeing. Which is true because he was Eritrean and not Israeli.
After the shooting of the innocent refugee and as he lay immobile on the ground, the mob attacked him, firing six bullets into his body, hurling a row of chairs at his head and stomping on his body with full force. Among the attackers were Israeli security personnel including an officer in the Israeli prison service, Ronen Cohen. He was the one who threw the chairs on top of the victim and kicked him in the head as captured on video. In his interview, Cohen dismissed any thought of wrongdoing:
“I came to save lives and now they want to judge me. If I’d only shot him they wouldn’t have done anything [to me]. So because I neutralized him from the State’s point of view I’m a criminal?
The scene was full of others kicking him from every side. The terrorist [he appears to be referring to the original Palestinian attacker, but conveniently could be referring to the Eritrean] had opened fire. Glass was flying everywhere. Soldiers and riot police were running toward the terrorist. They left him [Habtom] alone. I lifted a bench. He made a movement with his hand and I made a gesture to my mouth that he shouldn’t move. He moved and I thought he would bring out a weapon so I kicked him.
The reporter asked him: “At this point [when you attacked Zarhoum], he’d been shot three times. Why did you continue to strike him after he’d been neutralized?”
“Because a solider had been murdered right next to me. A policeman had been shot. He wasn’t neutralized as long as he was moving. I hadn’t come hot-headed from home. I hadn’t come hoping to beat someone up because of the color of his skin. My only goal was the help. Not to harm anyone. I’m a level-headed person. I’m no psychopath; not a criminal as they’re trying to make me out to be. My advice to bystanders is not to get involved with incidents like this because they’ll get messed up.”
I have nothing to apologize for. In my eyes, he was a terrorist. About what should I apologize? I apologize in hindsight that he wasn’t…that he was an Eritrean citizen. About that I do apologize. But to apologize for him being a terrorist? I don’t apologize. And if it happened again, and one time more, and twenty times more, I would act exactly the same way.”
Cohen’s lawyer has the unmitigated chutzpah to claim that the State wants to take his client and “hang him from the highest tree.” The invocation of the terminology of the lynch is especially offensive given what his client did to Habtom.
There was a memorial to the victim in Tel Aviv. Here is the audio. If you wish to donate to a legal fund established to seek justice for Habtom and his family, please contribute.
It’s worth noting that four Israeli members of the lynch mob were arrested by police. They were released after four hours in jail. The State refuses to prosecute them for murder and instead will charge them with grievous bodily harm, a much lower charge. Though the sentence could be as long as 20 years if convicted, it will be much shorter, if they even serve a day in jail.
There are Israeli peace activists arrested at non-violent demonstrations whose “crime” is little more than holding a protest. They are kept in jail for nearly an entire day and only released (without charge) because police would have to appear before a judge in order to detain them longer than 24 hours. Palestinians are arrested and detained for weeks, months or years on vague suspicions of infractions.
Yet if you’re an Israeli Jew you can murder a non-Jew, call it terror, and get off scot-free. The worst that will happen to Cohen is that he might be fired and lose his pension. Hartoum lost his life. To a foul crime perpetrated by an Israeli Jewish lynch mob as sinister as the worst Ku Klux Klan lynching the south had to offer. And these Israelis will get as little punishment as southern whites got for their acts of murder.
H/t David Sheen and Ofer Neiman
Today, also brings news (Hebrew version) that Israeli Palestinian graduate student, Asra’a Zidan Abed, who was shot six times at the Afula bus station and accused of being a knife-wielding terrorist, has been cleared of all charges against her. She was mentally ill, had suffered through several psychiatric hospitalizations, attempted to commit suicide and had had her baby removed from her custody.
Though police still claim she waved a knife (a fact still in dispute), she never attempted to use it and may’ve hoped the police would kill her. It’s unbelievable that given her history the prosecution still intends to prosecute her on criminal charges. For what? For nearly being killed by trigger-finger Israeli police?
In closing, Tom “Terrific” Friedman penned another one of his mealy-mouthed op-eds in which he blamed Palestinians for the failure of peace in the Middle East. He blamed Israel too. But blaming both sides equally is like blaming the mote of dust that irritates the eyes of a terminal cancer patient. Which one will kill him?
Here’s the doozy he brought forth from that florid pen of his:
I visited Monday with Israel’s very decent defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon.
Indeed, the same Yaalon who fundraises around the world with Kahanist Moshe Feiglin under the sponsorship of the Kahane kids. The Yaalon who’s responsible for IDF murders of unarmed Palestinian children, including 500 during Operation Protective Edge. How very “decent” of him.
But he does have one good final phrase that deserves mention:
I truly worry that Israel is slowly committing suicide…
To which I would add…not so ‘slowly.’