Protestors decry racism after attack on Jaffa man

Some 100 demonstrators issue call to fight racism after Israel-Arab man Hanan Usruf was savagely beaten in Tel Aviv.

Hassan Ausruf  in hospital 370 (photo credit: Neriman Ausruf )
Hassan Ausruf in hospital 370
(photo credit: Neriman Ausruf )
Calling to fight racism in Tel Aviv and across the country, some 100 people gathered on the city’s beachfront promenade on Monday, near where more than a dozen youths savagely beat an Israeli-Arab man the previous day.
The rally was attended by MKs Dov Henin (Hadash), Stav Shaffir (Labor) and Tamar Zandberg and Esawi Freige, both from Meretz.
Freige, from Kafr Kasim, said the attack on 40-year-old Hassan Ausruf was “a direct result of the political racism we are living with in Israel.”
Ausruf’s injuries include a fracture in his right eye socket and deep lacerations on his right ear and across almost his entire head. His vision is blurred in his left eye, but he can make out small numbers and letters, doctors said. His wife Neriman said he did not suffer any deeper injuries or a concussion during the beating.
Such attacks “start at the top,” Freige said, and can be linked to statements by political leaders such as Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who famously referred to Arab MKs as “Zoabis,” in a reference to MK Haneen Zoabi of the Balad party.
“For 65 years, since 1948, we’ve lived with this racism, and this won’t be the last incident,” Freige said.
He expressed agreement with Jaffa youth activist Abed Abu Shehada, who said at the gathering that Israeli Arabs live without a sense of personal security and that “police are just a private security company for the Jews; there are no police for the Arab sector.”
Henin called for Tel Aviv Municipality workers to hold a one-hour strike in solidarity with Ausruf, who was performing his job as a municipal street cleaner when he was attacked on Sunday.
Detectives from the Tel Aviv Center police precinct were still gathering evidence from the scene of the crime, including surveillance camera footage and forensic evidence, Tel Aviv District spokeswoman Orit Friedman said. She would neither confirm nor deny whether this included DNA, but did say that police did not have any suspects.
Ausruf, 40, told police that he was working on the promenade around 4:30 a.m. Sunday when at least 15 youths around 18 to 20 years old attacked him. They hit him with a bottle and a garbage can and beat him repeatedly, calling him a “dirty Arab,” with one of them saying, “You’re trying to steal our country from us.”
Ausruf was taken in for X-rays on Monday afternoon at Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, so that doctors could see the extent of the damage to his eye socket. At the ophthalmology ward, Neriman Ausruf kept an eye on the couple’s three kids, aged three, five, and nine, as she juggled phone interviews to Hebrew and Arabic media outlets and visits from parliamentarians and Tel Aviv City Council members.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was one of the visitors. He was “deeply saddened by the fact that violent acts of racism are still part of our daily lives,” he later wrote on his Facebook page.
Neriman Ausruf related that, on Sunday at around five in the morning, she was sleeping at home when her husband’s co-worker Yisrael called her. He told her he found Hassan beaten and covered in blood on the promenade, and that they had just arrived in an ambulance at the emergency room.
She went to Ichilov, found her husband in a hospital bed and began sobbing.
“I thought he was just beat up, that some kid hit him a couple of times, but I got here and he was covered in blood and cuts, his eye was swollen shut and he told me, ‘They beat me up on the promenade, they beat me,’ screaming, and then he passed out,” Neriman Ausruf said.
She appeared worn out and worried, but more than anything else, puzzled by the sudden and brutal attack.
“I’ve lived my whole life in Jaffa and grew up with Jews, Jewish neighbors and co-workers, and we never had these problems before, never,” she said. •