Israeli police on Wednesday confirmed they were investigating an apparent hate crime against an Arab woman in Jerusalem and said a policeman had been dismissed after praising the attack on Facebook.
The attack took place on Monday at one of the light rail stops in west Jerusalem, with an Israeli bystander capturing the event on camera then posting the account along with 14 photographs on her own Facebook page.
In an account in Hebrew, eyewitness Dorit Jordan Dotan described seeing an Arab woman with her head covered standing at the tram stop in Kiryat Moshe, near the central bus station.
“Suddenly shouts were heard, and a group of young religious Jewish women confronted the woman and suddenly a young Jewish woman punched her in the head,” she wrote, saying the rest then joined in, hitting and shoving the Arab woman.
“The woman tried to fight them off but they shouted at her not to dare touch Jews and they continued as a group to attack her and even forcibly pulled off her head covering,” Dotan wrote.
She claimed the incident was witnessed by a security guard from the rail company and a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish students who stood by and did nothing.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed that police were looking into the pictures of the incident and that an investigation had been opened.
“No one has made a complaint but we are investigating the entire incident to understand what was the motive behind the attack,” she told AFP.
She also said that a police officer had been dismissed after posting a comment on Facebook apparently praising the attack.
“A police officer was fired after he wrote on his Facebook: ‘Very good, sad the Arab bitch didn’t die’,” she said. “We view this as a serious incident.”
Arab Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi, who raised the issue in parliament, told AFP that anti-Arab racism was growing.
“The phenomenon of racism is spreading — we can see it from the continuing attacks on Arabs,” he said.
“Some police show their fascism on Facebook, and others through their actions in the field.”