AFRICANGLOBE – At a court hearing recently in Beersheba, a judge released the four Jews arrested for beating Eritrean asylum seeker Haptom [also spelled: Habtom and Haftum] Zarhum in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s terror attack in the Beersheba Central Bus Station.
The four were sent home and ordered not to contact each other, Ha’aretz reported. The prosecution had asked that they be released to house arrest.
Two of the four are Israel Prison Service officers. The attorney for one of them, Ronen Cohen, said Cohen kicked Zarhom because he suspected he was the killer.
“The only lynching that took place here was by the media,” Ido Porat, Cohen’s attorney, reportedly said.
Magistrate’s Court Judge Amir Doron immediately shot down Porat’s claim that his client had done no wrong.
“From the moment that person was lying on the ground in his blood and unable to do anything that endangers the people around him, there was no place, justification or need on the respondent’s part to join in the violent acts,” Doron reportedly said.
The names of the three other suspects – one of them also an Israel Prison Service officer – have not been released.
Israel’s Channel 10 News reportedly aired video showing a number of IDF soldiers kicking Zarhum with great force as he lay helpless and bleeding on the floor from multiple gunshot wounds. At the same time, an Israeli civilian is seen holding a knife and threatening the barely conscious Zarhum. As this all took place, the Jewish mob surrounding Zarhum is screaming “kill him!”
Zarhum was shot down by a security guard – and possibly by other armed Israelis as yet unidentified – as he fled the terror attack in the bus station mall with many other people. Video footage shows him to be unarmed and threatening no one when the guard – and perhaps other Israelis not seen on the security camera footage that has been released – shot him.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the guard told police he fired only one shot at Zarhum. Autopsy results claim to show Zarhum’s body was riddled with eight bullets. African asylum seekers overwhelming believe Zarhum was killed because he was Black and because of the near-constant incitement against African refugees from leading Israeli rabbis and politicians, including the prime minister.
Zarhum was denied victim of terror status by the Government of Israel because he entered Israel illegally seeking asylum. (Israel doesn’t really have a legal way for asylum seekers to enter the country and actively persecutes those who do manage to get in.) No representative of the government or any politician from the governing coalition or major opposition parties attended Zarhum’s memorial service in Tel Aviv. Two prominent members of the left-wing meretz party did attend, and stood silently in the crowd with the thousands of mourners, almost all of whom African asylum seekers. The government did not even issue a message of condolence.
Zarhum, who worked in a kibbutz packing fruit, was in Beersheba to renew the two-month non-residency visa the government gives African asylum seekers, more as means of identifying them to make it easier to arrest them for deportation or harassment than anything else.
Eritrea is considered to be the “North Korea of Africa,” a brutal dictatorship in which young men like Zarhum are conscripted into the army nearly unending terms of 30 years or more.
By: Shmarya Rosenberg