Arab town calls for probe into killing of local involved in Tel Aviv ‘attack’
By Joan Mas Autonell
Kafr Qasim (Israel), Apr 13 (EFE).- The Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qasim has been stirred up since its resident Youssef Abu Jaber was shot dead for allegedly ramming his car into pedestrians in Tel Aviv, killing one tourist and injuring seven others.
Circumstances behind Friday’s incident are still unclear but Abu Jaber, a 45-year-old father of six who had no criminal record, was labeled a “terrorist” by Israeli authorities.
“Israel sees us as direct enemies,” Saeed Eissa, head of Kafr Qasim’s popular committee, tells Efe.
Eissa says Abu Jaber will not be able to tell his version of what happened because the police killed him when he was lying badly injured after his car overturned, in what he called an “abuse of force” and a “common pattern of action” against Arab citizens of Israel.
Defending the Palestinian’s alleged innocence, Abu Jaber’s family and the residents of Kafr Qasim have demanded the release of surveillance images of the incident, a detailed report of the body’s autopsy and vehicle analysis.
Israeli police initially believed Abu Jaber was trying to reach for a gun when they shot him dead but later said it was a firearm-like object.
Neither images from the surveillance cameras in the area nor the content of body cameras worn by the officers who pulled the trigger were released, raising suspicions in Kafr Qasim.
Abu Jaber was working in an Israeli school and had Jewish friends, which is why people in his community were shocked when they found out about the incident.
Several Kafr Qasim residents told Efe that it is “impossible” Abu Jaber could have committed an attack, adding he might have zoned out or had a mechanical failure in his car.
According to Israeli media, tests ruled out that he could have had a stroke, and it is still unknown whether he suffered from another medical condition or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he committed the alleged attack.
The “terror attack” resulted in the death of Alessandro Parini, a 35-year-old Italian who was visiting Israel, and the injury of seven other tourists, all from Italy and the United Kingdom.
This incident comes amid surging Israeli-Palestinian violence.
So far this year, 98 Palestinians, including 18 minors, have been killed in violent clashes with Israeli troops, while on the Israeli side, 19 civilians have died.
However, after years of denouncing discrimination against Arabs, inhabitants of Kafar Qasem do not trust Israel.
They still remember when Israeli forces killed some 50 people in 1956 after imposing an abrupt curfew.
The Arab-Israeli population was subjected to military rule at that time, which lasted until 1966, and in 2007, late Israeli president Shimon Peres apologized for the massacre on behalf of the state.
The Arab community – descendants of those who stayed after the creation of Israel in 1948 and now account for 20% of the population – decry historical discrimination and second-class treatment.
“Why did they shoot him in the head? Why did they kill him? We want the truth,” another resident tells Efe, referring to a video posted on social networks showing officers opening fire at Abu Jaber while he was on the ground. EFE