AFRICANGLOBE – “You call us ‘infiltrators’ and other racist words. A man who came to Israel was brutally murdered because of that racism, and not one politician from the government even comes to express their sympathy!”
African asylum seekers held a memorial service for Haptom [also spelled: “Habtom] Zarhum, the innocent unarmed Eritrean man who was gunned down by a security guard and then stomped and beaten by a Jewish mob in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s terror attack in the Beersheba Central Bus Station.
The memorial was held in Tel Aviv’s Lewinsky Park, a place where many African asylum seekers have been forced to sleep because the government refuses to help them and often persecutes them in an illegal bid to try to force them to leave the country.
Zarhum – who worked on a kibbutz packing fruit and was in Beersheba to renew his non-resident visa – was innocent, and video footage shows the guard acted incorrectly and without provocation and shot Zarhum. The mob’s actions were also clearly illegal. And all of it likely happened primarily because of the color of Zarhum’s skin.
Ha’aretz reported the memorial was attended by thousands of African asylum seekers a several dozen Israelis, among the latter clergy from three Christian denominations: the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and the Pentecostal Church who spoke at the memorial, as did some African asylum seekers who knew Zarhum.
But while two officials from the left-wing Meretz party were there and stood silently in the mourning crowd, the Government of Israel sent no official representative.
The overwhelming sentiment among the African asylum seekers was that Zarhum had been gunned down simply because of the color of skin and widespread Israeli racism stoked by high government officials and rabbis.
“You call us ‘infiltrators’ and other racist words. A man who came to Israel was brutally murdered because of that racism, and not one politician from the government even comes to express their sympathy,” a man who identified himself only as Demoz reportedly said.
Human rights groups – including Israeli human rights groups – and the international community have long criticized the Government of Israel for its mistreatment of African asylum seekers.
Israel would normally recognize an innocent bystander shot by police or other responders during a terror attack as an official victim of terror. That status conveys certain rights and benefits to the person or his heirs.
But Zarhum won’t get that status, the government announced this week, because the law does not allow the status to be given to a person who entered Israel illegally. And because of how Israel deals with non-Jewish Black asylum seekers, almost none of them have legal status.
By: Shmarya Rosenberg
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