US Consulate staff involved in Jerusalem beating

Sunday, May 23, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff  

A young Israeli man who was brutally beaten in downtown Jerusalem earlier this month revealed to The Jerusalem Post that his assailants were apparently employees of the US Consulate in the Israeli capital.

The young man, who identified himself only by his first name, Yishai, said the attack occurred as he and a friend stepped out of a downtown bar where they were celebrating another friend's birthday to buy some cigarettes.

As they were returning to the party, the two Israelis were approached by a group of people speaking English. One of the larger of the English-speakers exchanged words with Yishai and then punched him in the face. The others proceeded to punch and kick Yishai, leaving him with multiple head and body injuries that required him being taken to a nearby hospital.

Yishai's friend, who was also lightly injured, rushed back to the bar to let the rest of his friends know what happened to and to call the police. The group searched for the attackers and found them at another bar, to which they directed police. The assailants were arrested and taken to a downtown jail, but were shortly after released.

When Yishai's friends demanded to know why those who had perpetrated an unprovoked and brutal attack were simply allowed to walk free, one officer revealed that the attackers were employees of the US Consulate, and so enjoy diplomatic immunity.

Police officials later contacted by the Post refused to confirm or deny that the assailants were US diplomats. US Consulate staff insisted that they were cooperating fully with the Israeli police in the investigation.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem has many Palestinian Arabs who possess US citizenship on its staff. They, together with other American employees of the mission, have on numerous occasions confronted both Israeli civilians and security personnel in a very hostile manner. One of the more recent incidents involved a consulate driver refusing to allow Israeli guards at a border crossing check his vehicle. He reportedly attempted to drive the car into one of the guards as the situation escalated.

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