Suspect arrested in assault on gay Arabs in Jaffa

The Different House – for Empowering the Arab LGBT Community, said that, after hearing "complicated" eyewitness accounts, they couldn't "unequivocally determine the specific circumstances."

A general view of Jaffa Clock Tower, in Jaffa, Israel (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A general view of Jaffa Clock Tower, in Jaffa, Israel
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A 16-year-old suspect from Lod was arrested for assaulting a gay couple at the Jaffa port on Saturday night, Israel Police announced on Tuesday.
Police who arrived at the scene of the assault were provided with hard footage, which spread through social media, and collected evidence and eyewitness testimony from the scene.
A group of Bedouin passersby saw the two gay Arab men at the Jaffa port and attacked them and threw them into the water, according to 103FM.
One of the victims, a 20-year-old, told KAN news that “I’m alive. The most important thing is that I’m alive. I thought I was going to die. What happened to me, happened. I was afraid. I let him hit me so he wouldn’t throw me into the water.”
The youth told KAN that he was with an acquaintance and that the attackers came and started spitting on them without them having even said anything to them.
“One of the attackers hit me and I fell on the ground. He came to me and said ‘I came back to you, you gay.’ I took my pepper spray and chased after him to spray him and then 20 Bedouins jumped on me. They jumped on me suddenly, for no reason,” said the youth. “They wanted to kill me. Just because we were gay.”
Albait Almokhtalef, The Different House – for Empowering the Arab LGBT Community, stated that, after hearing “complicated” eyewitness accounts, they could not “unequivocally determine the specific circumstances.”
The incident reportedly began after sexual comments were made by the two gay men. Bar Shem-Ur from the Hazinor television program told 103FM that a representative from the Albait Almokhtalef told him that the two “provoked” the group of Bedouins and should have known better. When asked if it sounded reasonable that the response was to beat the two men, the representative responded that “that’s how it is. You don’t see that gay Arabs are attacked in Jaffa every day?”
The suspect was arrested on Monday and brought in for questioning at the Jaffa police station. The suspect was charged with aggravated assault and racist offenses.
The Bat Yam Juvenile Court extended the suspect’s arrest on Tuesday morning after a request by Israel Police, as the investigation continues.
“The homophobic attack at the Jaffa port was a horrible incident that cannot be passed over silently and I expect the attackers to be dealt with as having committed a hate crime in all ways,” said Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, according to KAN. “Just this week we marked 11 years since the Barnoar attack and five years since the murder of Shira Banki and the incitement against LGBTQ+ people hasn’t just continued, but has intensified. Homophobic hate is disgusting and dangerous like every other form of prejudice.”
“This attack should be a red light for us all,” said The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel on Tuesday. “If we don’t take concrete steps to improve the status of LGBTQ+ people in Arab society it could end a lot worse. Violence against LGBTQ+ people in Arab society is not destiny, it is the result of neglect, denial and disregard by Arab leaders and the government from an entire public that needs a response and is not receiving it.”
The Aguda is helping the victims of the attack and called on the police to continue the investigation into the incident.
The Aguda reported earlier this year that there was a 36% rise in the number of LGBTQ+phobic incidents reported in 2019 compared to 2018, with such incidents being reported once every four hours on average.