AFRICANGLOBBE – The unarmed and defenseless Eritrean asylum seeker who was shot by a security guard during the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s Beersheba Central Bus Station terror attack was killed by gunshot wounds and not by the brutal beating of a Jewish mob, Ha’aretz reported.
Haftom Zarhum was shot 8 times even though he was unarmed and was threatening no one. He was then savagely beaten by a Jewish mob as he lay defenseless and profusely bleeding on the floor.
The autopsy report issued by Israel’s national forensics institute the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine found the bullets, not the beating, killed Zarhum, who suffered serious damage to his liver, lungs, diaphragm and colon, and multiple rib fractures – all allegedly from the bullets. The savage beating Zarhum took as he laid on the floor allegedly dying from gunshot wounds did not cause any brain damage, the autopsy claims. Instead, it only caused a broken nose. But that claim is highly suspect medically, and cellphone videos taken by bystanders and released on social media shortly after the attack appear to show a lot of the damage Zarhum took came from the mob beating.
The Abu Kabir Institute has long controversial history and has repeatedly been accused of fabricating autopsy results to benefit the state.
The autopsy report is significant because if true it would mean the mob members who beat Zarhum, slammed a bench down on his defenseless body and savagely kicked him can’t be charged with murder or manslaughter.
Israel has already made it clear it will not charge the guard, Ziad As’am, (or, presumably, any other as yet unnamed shooters) for the killing – even though As’am clearly did not follow standard police procedure as practiced in Western Democracies. (Israel doesn’t require it and encourages a shoot first, ask questions later behavior that you can see with your own eyes here.) That means no one will likely be punished for the killing.
On the day of the terror attack, As’am reportedly claimed he only fired one shot at Zarhum. If As’am, who is a Bedouin, is telling the truth, police – who waited almost 12 hours after the shooting to start collecting evidence – will have to find a way to explain how seven more bullets hit Zarhum.
Zarhum’s attackers could still be charged with assault or even with a more serious charge, causing serious bodily harm, and Mordechai Kremnitzer, a noted expert on Israeli law, told Ha’aretz earlier this week that “even if someone is already dying and the blows only hasten his death, that is sufficient basis for a charge of manslaughter, and if there was an intention to kill, it could also constitute murder.”
But it is unlikely the state will bring any of the more serious charges against the attackers – especially when police initially refused to even investigate the crimes.
Zarhum lived and worked on a kibbutz in southern Israel. He was in Beersheba to try to get a residency permit – something the government frequently fails to give non-Jewish asylum seekers, especially Black ones from poor African countries.
The IDF’s Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, said Tuesday before the autopsy results were released that the IDF’s Criminal Investigations Division would join the police investigation of the incident. One of the cellphone videos shows a uniformed IDF soldier kicking Zarhum’s head like it was a soccer ball – a move right wing Zionist Orthodox rabbis had been encouraging for days before the attack.
Israel,of course, is a country of laws – laws that are often ignored, laws that are frequently twisted, but laws, nonetheless – and therefore, Israel’s Ministry of Defense, which is the arbiter of such things, announced yesterday that it would not recognize Zarhum as a legitimate victim of terrorism, even though the law states that a person who is mistakenly hit by gunfire “in wake of a terrorist action by enemy forces” is is a victim of terrorism.
So why deny that status to Zarhum?
Because the law states that a “terror attack victim” must be a legally recognized resident of Israel, a citizen of Israel or have entered Israel legally.
African refugees who fled persecution to the relative safety of Israel are not recognized as refugees by Israel even though many are refugees according to international law, and Israel regularly takes years to process asylum applications and residency applications filed by them. And when it does finally process those applications almost every one is rejected – something for which Israel has been savagely criticized internationally and by human rights experts in Israel, as well.
So Zarhum – who was shot and beaten because he was Black and foreign and in the right place at the wrong time – will be denied the one thing an unrepentant State of Israel should have given him willingly and with tears in its collective eyes.
But those eyes have no tears.
By: Shmarya Rosenberg