A teenager has been arrested in Israel after allegedly spitting on and attacking a young gay Arab couple in the port city of Jaffa.
Hundreds of people watched as the 16-year-old and another person harassed the couple after allegedly spotting them kissing in the harbor, Haaretz reports.
The men were reportedly attacked because of their sexuality, with the alleged suspect telling a witness that they were “[giving] Arabs a bad name.”
Footage of the attack, which police described as “grim video evidence of the brawl,” was shared online, showing the couple being assaulted by at least two men while another person intervenes to help them.
המשטרה עצרה אתמול לחקירה נער בן 16 מלוד בחשד שתקף שני נערים בקטטה בנמל יפו ממניעים להטבופוביים. הוא יובא היום לדיון בהארכת מעצרו בביהמ"ש לנוער בתל אביב | תיעוד התקיפה@daniel_elazar pic.twitter.com/NsYHQY7uM0
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 4, 2020
The teenager who allegedly participated in the attack was arrested after the attack and charged with aggravated assault and committing a hate crime.
Prior to the attack, the couple — who are Arab Israeli — reportedly kissed while in the harbor area after enjoying a boat tour.
Itzik Avneri, who operates a tour boat business, said the attack took place next to his boat and that he tried to help the couple. He told Haaretz that he attempted to restrain the attackers, and ultimately pushed one of them into the water in the harbor — something visible in the background of the footage of the incident.
“I have a tour boat in the port, and there was the holiday [Eid al-Adha] for the past few days when a lot of Muslims come to the port to have a good time and take a cruise,” Avneri said. “Two guys got on the boat to go sailing and when it ended, they got off and sat on the dock next to each other. Other people saw them and spat at them.”
When he intervened, one of the alleged attackers reportedly told him that they were harassing the couple “[because] we’re Arabs and they’re gays, and there won’t be gays among the Arabs, it gives Arabs a bad name.”
Avneri said he tried to isolate the couple in a private part of the dock surrounded by a fence, but two people ” jumped over the fence and they began to hit and kick” the couple.
“This violence was just because of the hate,” he said. “There was no talk between them, all they did was look a little bit different, that’s all.”
Avneri added: “What you don’t see in the video is 500 people, not a single one of them lifted a finger.”
LGBTQ youth organization IGY praised police for the prompt arrest of those involved in the attack, but said the “severe beatings seen in the video are the nightmare of every LGBT+ child in Israel.”
“It should be clear — violence against LGBT+ people continues to rage, and we must fight it with all our might, and in all parts of Israeli society,” they added.
Ofer Cassif, a lawmaker in the Knesset (Israel’s legislature), called the attack homophobic and said it was “a horrific event that must not overlooked.”
“I expect the attackers to be treated as perpetrators of a hate crime in every way,” Cassif said. “Homophobic hatred is as ugly and dangerous as any other form of discrimination.”
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