Israelis who study in Odessa, Ukraine
are afraid to leave their apartments following neo-Nazi
riots around the city, they say.
"I went out with my brother to play in a nearby yard, and on the way back, five minutes away from home, we were assaulted by more than 30 people aged 25-30, who came out of an alley. My brother, 19, managed to escape, but they circled me and gave me a terrific beating," one student recounted.
According to them, they are having difficulties getting in contact with the Israeli
embassy in the capital Kiev.
A picture from the attackers' page on a local social media site, according to the students
The student, who asked to remain nameless, is a 21-years-old Arab-Israeli from Taibeh who studies medicine in a university in Odessa.
He said that on Saturday afternoon he went out, as he does every weekend, to play football, and that the attack occurred on his way back. "I saw one of them has a knife, and that he is aiming it to stab me, but my brother started throwing rocks at him and prevented it," he described.
"One of them kicked me. They cursed me in Russian. From what I understood, they were cursing me for being a foreigner. I went to the local police, but they told me they don't know what to do."
The student also described several instances of attacks targeting foreigners, some from Israel, but not all: "I know of a guy from Azerbaijan who left a restaurant and was murdered by these gangs. They beat him and stabbed him. There's a square here, where several Israelis from Rahat were attacked. Police officers were there, and I heard they saw the attack but couldn’t stop it.
"I also know of about 12 Israeli students who were beaten. Yesterday I tried all day to get in contact with the Israeli embassy, and no one answered."
His description of the horror facing foreign students in the city continued: "These gangs threaten Arab-Israelis and Jews both, and in general all foreigners. Around the afternoon it's already dark, and then we can't leave the house anymore. The danger is greater for the girls. I haven't been to the local hospital because I don't feel safe there and I'm afraid."
"There's a wave of attacks at the hands of shaved-heads, neo-Nazis in the last three days," said Fadi, a 24-year-old from Kalansawa, a medical student. He confirmed that the threat is felt by both Arab and Jewish students from Israel.
"I know personally at least eight students who were attacked, and the violent behavior of the gangs is directed at any non-local."
According to him, some 200 Israeli Jews and Arabs study at the university. "We're all in contact with each other," he said. "The Israeli students are afraid to leave the house and go to school. We have no one to turn to. We held a gathering of the Israeli students yesterday to decide what to do. Many didn't show, because they are too afraid to leave the house."
Shafa from Bu'eine Nujeidat in northern Israel is the father of a 21-year-old medicine student in Odessa. "She was not personally attacked, but she didn't leave the house for three days, per our recommendation," he said in worry. "She said the neo-Nazi gangs are threatening foreigners and saying they are there to take their jobs."
The Foreign Ministry said in response: "There are many cases of xenophobia in Ukraine. We are familiar with the report and we're investigating it."
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