On Sunday, a bus station in the south of Israel became the scene of a shooting when a man shot an Israeli soldier dead and wounded 10 others.
CNN reports that it is unclear whether or not the shooting in Israel was influenced by the escalating hostility between Israelis and Palestinians.
Muhanad Al-Oqbi, an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel, was the gunman responsible for the shooting on Sunday. Some Bedouins identify as Palestinians, but not all. There have been issues, some violent, between a number of Bedouin groups and Israeli police. However, authorities in Israel have not talked about a motive behind the shooting.
At a bus station in Beer Sheva, Israel, Al-Oqbi, who was 21-years-old, shot Sergeant Omri Levi, a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, with a pistol at close range. After he killed the soldier, Al-Oqbi took his M16 rifle and began shooting in the bus station. Ten people were injured because of the shooting.
Before any more innocent people were killed in the shooting, Israeli police shot and killed Al-Oqbi.
As people ran for safety, an Eritrean immigrant crawled on all fours among them seeking shelter. A security guard, amidst the confusion, mistook the man for a second gunman involved in the shooting and shot him. As the wounded man took refuge next to a kiosk, a mob began to attack him, kicking him and beating him with a bench. The man, who has been identified as Habtom Zarhom, later died from his injuries.
Israeli police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said that the police of Israel did not support what the mob had done to Zarhom, who was left beaten beyond recognition after the shooting.
“It should be noted that the police see this in a very severe light and will not allow people to take the law into their hands, and everyone should act with restraint and carefulness and allow the police to do their job.”
The spokeswoman said that an investigation into who took part in the beating of Zarhom would ensue.
According to Yahoo!, Yaakov Amidror, the former national security adviser for the prime minister of Israel, agrees that the vigilantes need to be punished for what they did to Zarhom following the shooting.
“It is a disgrace to Israeli society, and those that carried out this lynching need to be found and brought to justice…Even if it was the terrorist himself, by the way, after he was shot, after he was neutralized and lying on the floor, you need to be an animal to torment him.”
A few people present during the shooting in Israel, including a police officer, tried to protect Zarhom against the horde. Meir Saka, who tried to help protect the Eritrean immigrant, was completely unsettled from the sight.
“It doesn’t matter if it was a terrorist or not. It was a man lying on the ground that couldn’t move. I couldn’t sleep at night from seeing him, his blood.”
A man, who participated in the attack, talked to Israel Radio News of how he had regretted what he had done.
“If I would have known he wasn’t a terrorist, believe me, I would have protected him like I protect myself. I didn’t sleep well at night. I feel disgusted.”
A Palestinian official blamed the leaders of Israel for creating an atmosphere conducive to attacks such as this.
“They are creating a mentality of lynch mobs and of course feeding the culture of hate and racism.”
The violence between Palestine and Israel began a month ago over the holy site, Temple Mount. This site is holy to both Jews and Muslims. The violence in Israel was incited when Palestinians began attacking Israelis. Jibril Rajoub, a Palestinian official has publicly commended the attacks in Israel.
“These are individual heroic acts. I appreciate them. I salute everyone that has done this. We bow in front of them.”
According to the Times of Israel, a source in Israel, who is close to the investigation, said that it is highly likely that those wounded in the shooting were hit by friendly fire.
“It’s not impossible that some of the wounded from last night’s terror attack were hit by fire from police, soldiers or security officers…In light of the sheer number of bullets that were fired from opposite directions at the terrorist, and from the terrorist at the security forces, it is entirely possible…and the assessment is that this is, in fact, the case…that some of the wounded were hit by fire from the security forces, or from ricochets.”
The gunman’s father stated that he did not know much about his son’s actions or why he made the decision to initiate the shooting.
“Muhanad was executed in the field, and everything being attributed to him in Beersheba is an act about which we don’t actually know anything. My son was executed. Even now, we still don’t know the truth.”
The father, who called the shooting an “an individual act my son committed on his own,” was forced to take down a mourning tent by the police. Mourning tents for terrorists are banned in Israel.
The father of seven says he and his family “oppose violence.” Muhanad, the eldest child, supported the entire family because the father was unemployed.
The reasons behind the shooting in Israel, along with the events that it incited, are still being investigated.
[Photo Courtesy of Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images]