Dozens demonstrated outside the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer (near Tel Aviv) on Monday, May 18, to protest last week’s shooting death of a mentally disturbed Arab man by hospital security guards. The man’s family, along with leaders of the Arab community in Israel and Joint List lawmakers, called for an investigation into what they believe was a murder enabled by racist law enforcement policies.
On Thursday, May 14, Mustafa Younis, 26, came to the hospital for consultation before his undergoing a planned head operation and a psychiatric examination. According to a police investigation, while still inside the hospital Younis pulled out a knife and threatened two persons, but did not hurt them, and then left the building. Security guards called to the scene forcibly removed him from his parked car as he was about to leave, at which point Younis stabbed one of the guards in the head, injuring him slightly. After Yunis was disarmed and incapacitated on the ground, the guards shot him five or six times, killing him.
The victim’s uncle, Dr. Issam Younis, told journalists what led up to the shooting in the parking lot: “He used to come to the hospital for treatment every six months, and he had last been there several months ago. For four days, he was preparing for a brain procedure. Apparently, an argument broke out between him and one of the hospital guards, who told him to wear a mask. Mustafa responded that the guard himself wasn’t wearing a mask.” The guard was apparently one of the persons the angered and disturbed Mustafa threatened with a knife, but didn’t touch, before leaving the hospital building. This guard in turn called in the incident to the security detail, which resulted in a number of security guards quickly arriving at the scene where they would ultimately shoot Mustafa to death.
“The killing of Mustafa Younis is the latest in a list of dozens of cases in which Arab citizens of Israel have been killed by police and members of the security forces – 58 since October 2000,” noted former Hadash MK Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. “The authorities have a very quick trigger finger when it comes to Arab citizens. The recurrence of such crimes proves that this isn’t a mistake, but a policy that filters down from the top to the guards on the job – a policy of institutionalized racism,” he said.
MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash – Joint List) said the guards could have arrested Younis without shooting him. “Instead of arresting him alive, three guards shot him one after the other and confirmed the kill,” he said. Ten people were arrested during a demonstration on Thursday prior to the funeral of the young Arab man.