(JTA) – An Arab citizen of Israel said he was threatened in eastern Jerusalem because he was speaking Hebrew on his phone.
Muhammad Abed Abu Rahman, 24, said a vehicle blocked his escape while a group of assailants set upon him with sticks and knives, the Walla news site reported Thursday.
“I thought I was in a murder situation, they really lynched me,”Abu Rahman said.
Abu Rahman was in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, near the home of murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, when the incident occurred. Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped and murdered by three Israeli Jews in July 2014, in a revenge attack for the murder of three Palestinian teens. Two of his attackers were recently sentenced to prison, and the third, who was the ringleader, is expected to be sentenced soon.
Abu Rahman was in his car and speaking on his phone with earphones when someone came up to him and screamed, “Are you not ashamed? How can you speak Hebrew in Abu Khdeir’s neighborhood?”
Abu Rahman said he tried to reason with the person in Arabic, when, “Suddenly, a few cars arrived, stopped on the road, each one with a stick, they all came to me. Between seven to 10 people. You could see they’d been waiting for this. I tried to joke with them, to say what had happened that moment. To be honest, I was surprised, I was in shock when I saw people coming towards me. They threw stones at the car, a steel bar and whatever was in their hands. I also saw people with knives … clubs and steel rods.”
Abu Rahman photographed the car blocking him and phoned the police, who rescued him.
“It was only later that I understood that they had suspected I was a Jew,” he told Walla. “They didn’t want to listen to me and apparently didn’t understand that I was an Arab.”