‘Almost lynched’: IDF soldiers attacked by Israeli youths who 'mistook them for Arabs'
Police arrested a 16-year-old Israeli, suspected of taking part in an assault that took place on Friday in Pardes Hanna, south of Haifa, the Jerusalem Post reported.
According to police, the soldiers were sitting in a park with a young woman and a 17-year-old male when they were attacked by a group of men.
The assailants allegedly shouted "you are Arabs" at the soldiers, hitting them using a hookah pipe and other blunt objects, Ynet news reported.
The soldiers sustained light injuries, including to the face, and were treated at Hadera’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center.
The soldiers were reportedly too scared to call the police following the incident. After the father of one of the soldiers found out that his son was in hospital, police finally became involved and launched an investigation.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that based on the victims’ statements, they believe the attackers are Jewish.
The soldiers were in civilian clothes during the assault, Samri said.
“Soldiers go on vacation and are attacked by criminals just because they look like Arabs. It’s a disgrace,” Ynet news quoted the father as saying.
פירסום ראשון - שני לוחמים מכפיר וגולני ואזרח שיצאו לבלות בפרדס חנה הותקפו קשות עי צעירים מקומיים שחשבו שהם ערבים . pic.twitter.com/UocCAd2uXJ— כרמלה מנשה (@ela1949) 20 августа 2017 г.
“They [almost] lynched them, it could have ended in death. How did we stoop so low? And even if they were Arabs, [does this mean] we should harm them? We are shocked and demand that the lawbreakers be brought to justice,” the man added.
It’s not the first time that Israelis have attacked individuals on the assumption that they are Arabs.
In February, an Israeli Jew received an 11-year prison term for the attempted murder of another Jewish man, who he mistakenly thought was an Arab. An “inner voice” allegedly guided him to “find and kill an Arab” in October 2015, to avenge “terror attacks” by Palestinians on Israelis. Haifa District Court rejected the insanity plea from Shlomo Haim Pinto, 32, who had earlier confessed to an attempted “revenge” attack.
An Israeli-Arab man was beaten by an angry crowd who mistook him for a terrorist amid an attack on a market in Petah Tikva, not far from Tel Aviv, in February. The man was shouting in Arabic in an attempt to warn people during the attack.
“I wanted to warn people, and they nearly killed me,” the victim was quoted as saying by Ynet newspaper. One witness told Ynet that the unarmed man did not pose any threat and was beaten “simply because he is an Arab,” adding that “it's good they didn't shoot him to death.”
In April, six young Israeli men in the city of Be’er Sheva were charged with assaulting Arab men over their romantic relationships with Jewish women.
The Israeli men are aged between 17 and 20, and two of them are soldiers, according to Haaretz.