Eritrean envoy to Israel calls for arrest of lynch mob

Israeli police have not arrested any of those involved in lynching of Eritrean who died of his wounds in Beersheba.

    Haftom Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean migrant, was shot by a security guard and kicked by bystanders [AP]
    Haftom Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean migrant, was shot by a security guard and kicked by bystanders [AP]

    The Eritrean ambassador to Israel has called for a thorough investigation and subsequent arrest of those who shot and beat an Eritrean migrant who later died of his wounds in southern Israel.

    Tesfamariam Tekeste told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that he asked the Israeli foreign ministry for a full investigation into the incident in the city of Beersheba after he was notified of it by the Eritrean community.

    Haftom Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean migrant, died in a Beersheba hospital on Sunday night after he, mistaken for an accomplice of a suspected attacker that killed an Israeli soldier, was shot by a security guard and kicked by bystanders.

    A video published online following the incident purported to show the Eritrean being kicked by several people as he lay bleeding on the ground. (The graphic footage - which could be disturbing to some viewers - can be found here.)

    "I was very saddened when I heard the news." the Eritrean diplomat told Al Jazeera.

    No arrests made

    Israeli police have not yet made any arrests two days after the incident.

    The private security guard who shot the unarmed Eritrean was questioned by the police and later released, Israeli police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld said.

    “We have arrested no one at this point, but we are still looking for people for questioning over this incident," Rosenfeld told Al Jazeera.

    Footage released online from the bus station clearly showed faces of some of those who participated in the lynching, which Al Jazeera’s reporter in Israel Elias Karram said, included two Israeli officers.

    Moreover, an Israeli man, in an appearance on Israeli Channel Two on Monday evening, said that he had been one of those who kicked Zarhum.

    It remains unclear if Israeli authorities questioned the Israeli man or took any action against him.

    Footage from the station showed at least one Israeli soldier kicking Zarhum in the head as he lay bleeding on the floor of the terminal.

    Another man lifted a bench and dropped it on Zarhum's head as another tried to protect him by placing a bar stool over his body.

    'Victim of racism'

    Amnesty International Israel said it was "appalled and in mourning after learning of the murder, adding that "Zarhum was shot by an Israeli security officer, targeted simply because of the colour of his skin.

    “He was a victim of racism and xenophobia who just happened to be at the scene of a terrorist attack,” the organisation said.

    Asked whether the gruesome death of Zarhum showed racism within the Israel towards African, the Eritrean diplomat said that he could not generalise about Israeli society, but that "racism does exist in Israel."

    Tekeste advised Eritrean citizens in Israel to exercise caution when they move around in the country.

    He said there were about 20,000 Eritrean citizens working in Israel.

    Tekeste said that once the police conclude their investigations, the embassy will repatriate the remains of Zarhum to his family who live in a remote village in the Eritrean countryside.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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