Photo: AFP
Palestinian home defaced over the weekend
Photo: AFP

Hate crimes suspected as Jewish bus driver is attacked in Megiddo and Palestinian youth is beaten in Jerusalem

Two young Palestinians escaped after punching religious bus driver. An 18-year-old Palestinian was hospitalized in an attack by Israelis.

Three young Israelis attacked a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem on Monday, police say, the latest sectarian incident in the increasingly tense city.



Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the unidentified youth is in good condition in a Jerusalem hospital, and that police were investigating the attack.


Blood spots seen after the attack on Verdiger (Photo: 0404 news)
Blood spots seen after the attack on Verdiger (Photo: 0404 news)


An incident on Saturday night continued a pattern of attacks apparently motivated by nationalism. A haredi bus driver, Hezi Verdiger of Bnei Brak, was attacked Saturday night by two young Arab passengers on Egged's 840 line from Afula to Tel Aviv. Verdiger said that two Arab men in their twenties boarded and inquired about stopping in Umm al-Fahm, but then bought tickets to Megiddo. 


"They sat on two different benches behind me and were talking the whole time. One of them seemed restless so I became suspicious, but there wasn't much I could do," he said.


When the bus reached Megiddo junction, the two went to exit from the front doors. "At this point I was less concerned because they were on their way out. One of them got out and the other called me a religious Jew. I turned and he punched me hard in the face."


The force of the blow broke his glasses and injured his nose. "I called the police straight away and then a friend. I thought I might still be able to drive, but I felt poorly and was dizzy." Another driver was brought to replace him, and the injured man was taken to hospital. A soldier and other passengers got out and tried to chase after the suspects, but the two escaped into an adjacent grove and disappeared. Um, al-Fahm are attempting to locate the suspects.


The driver emphasized that he would keep driving the 840 line, but said, "This is a difficult incident. I've encountered passengers who attacked me, but there has never been this kind of nationalistic attack."


In recent months there were other incidents in which buses were attacked in Wadi Ara, on the way to and from Afula. In at least two incidents passengers were wounded by stones and broken panes.


In a separate incident, an 18-year-old Palestinian from Ras al-Amud complained to police that he was attacked Sunday night by three Jewish youths on Moshe Dayan Street in the Pisgat Ze'ev area, near route 20.


Magen David Adom treated him and took him to Shaare Zedek, where he is suffering from wounds to his stomach and foot. Jerusalem District Police opened an investigation, but no suspects have been arrested.


Tensions in Jerusalem are spiking, mostly over Palestinian claims that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to change the status quo at a sensitive holy site in the city by allowing Jews to pray there.


Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the claims but some members of his right-wing coalition favor letting the prayers go forward.


Known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the site is the third holiest in Islam and the holiest in Judaism.


In recent months, 11 people have been killed in attacks by Palestinian assailants -- most in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. A rash of nationalistic attacks in the past few weeks have accompanied the terrorism. There were reports of vandalism, arson, and threats. Four Jewish girls from a settlement were accused of assaulting Arabs in Jerusalem with pepper spray.   


On Sunday a West Bank Palestinian home was torched by unidentified assailants, the latest in a series of attacks on property in the area. The walls of the home were daubed with racist slogans written in Hebrew. No one was injured in the attack, and Israeli authorities say they are investigating.


Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 11.24.14, 10:26