Attack in Be'er Sheva
We are saddened to hear of the attack and tragic loss of life at the Be'er Sheva bus terminal yesterday. At ARDC, the news hit home as we are an organization comprised of both asylum seekers and Israeli citizens working together to promote a more peaceful and proactive discourse in Israeli society. We condemn all acts of terrorism as unlawful and against the common good of humanity.
We join with the Israeli people in mourning the loss of Sergeant Omri Levy and Habtom Zarhum, an Eritrean asylum seeker residing in Israel. While running for his life from the actual assailant, Mr. Zarhum was mistaken for a terrorist on the basis of his physical appearance. He was shot by the Head of Security at the station and viciously beaten, kicked, spat on, and had chairs thrown at him by a mob of bystanders after he fell to the ground. There have also been reports that emergency medical staff were delayed in leaving the scene with Mr. Zarhum due to protests over him receiving medical treatment. Due to the brave police and civilians who intervened on Habtom's behalf, he was able to leave and receive emergency care at Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. Sadly, Habtom died there of his wounds this morning.
We salute the brave police and civilians who did what may be the most difficult thing to do in a crisis-- they stood up to their fellow citizens and tried to protect Habtom, an innocent and wounded man from being attacked by a mob. We support Be'er Sheva's mayor Danilovich's statements against vigilantism and join him in urging citizens to not take the law into their own hands. Please, allow the security forces to investigate any potential suspect and do not endanger yourself and others by interfering with emergency services.
Israel is a nation built on the principles of democracy, justice, and equality. We ask the Israeli people to not lose sight of those beautiful and hard-fought principles, even in light of the current escalation of violence. We urge the government to make an inquiry into Habtom's death. We ask all police and security forces to improve their training on target assessment and especially on the issue of unperceived bias. We at the ARDC firmly support continued training and dialogue between the security sector and the asylum seeker community. We are an available resource for any governmental or private organization that wishes to improve its ability to avoid senseless tragedies like Habtom's death.
ARDC sends its condolences to the friends and family of Habtom and Omri, as well as our prayers for those wounded in the attack. May they have a complete and swift recovery.