Consulate workers suspect in J'lem brawl

US Consulate: “We are cooperating fully with the Israel Police."

By ABE SELIG
May 23, 2010 05:00
3 minute read.
Police handcuff a criminal (illustrative).

handcuffs 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Although violence in downtown Jerusalem has become more frequent over the years, the beating of a young Israeli man last week near Hillel and King George streets may prove to be especially out of the ordinary, in that he claims it was perpetrated by employees of the US Consulate.

Yishai, who has asked to have his last name withheld, told The Jerusalem Post that he was on the receiving end of an unprovoked attack on Thursday night, May 13, after arriving in downtown Jerusalem’s Nahalat Shiva neighborhood to attend a friend’s birthday party at an area pub.

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As per his plans for the evening, Yishai met up with his friends at the birthday party, and around midnight, he and another friend stepped out to buy cigarettes, when they were approached by what he described as a “large man, who was with a group of people speaking in English.

“The man and I had an exchange of words,” Yishai told the Post last week. “I couldn’t exactly understand what he said, but it was something along the lines of, ‘you’re going the wrong way.’”

Then Yishai said, the man suddenly punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.

As he curled up in a ball, Yishai said he was then punched and kicked repeatedly in his face, and other parts of his body.

“I’ve never been in a fight before,” Yishai said, “And the whole thing was terribly confusing. I didn’t understand what was happening or why.”

While Yishai’s friend tried to intervene and was lightly injured himself, Yishai sustained a bloody nose, bruises on his face, ribs, and other parts of his body, and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, “covered in blood.”

His friend, Yishai said, then alerted police and friends who were still at the birthday party, and they began looking for the perpetrators.

“After it was all over, the guy who hit me and his friends apparently just walked off and went to a different bar,” Yishai said of his attackers. “That’s where my friends found them.”

After his friends identified the men to police, Yishai said they were brought to the nearby Russian Compound station and briefly detained.

“But then the police let them go,” he said. “They told my friends – who had also arrived at the station to file a complaint – that the men were US Consulate employees, and that they had diplomatic immunity.”

“They just let them go,” he said.

Police were somewhat tight-lipped about the case, and after numerous requests for
clarification, said that the “details were being checked out.”

“The case is being investigated, and at this point, we are not commenting as to who was involved,” police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby told the Post.

Ben-Ruby refused to confirm or deny if the men in question were employees of the consulate, and if they in fact had been released based on diplomatic immunity.

Nonetheless, a US Consulate spokesperson who was reached for comment told the Post, “We are cooperating fully with the [Israel Police]. We value our ongoing close, cooperative relationship with the police].”

In the meantime, Yishai said he wants his attackers to be held accountable for what happened.

“It was an unprovoked attack,” he said. “And I’m still in pain – it’s hard for me to breathe, I’ve been mostly laying in bed since I got out of the hospital.

“Things like this shouldn’t happen,” he added. “And more importantly, the people responsible shouldn’t just be allowed to walk free.”


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