JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
A 25-year-old Palestinian from the Gaza Strip drew a stiff sentence from a Kfar Sava magistrate Tuesday for loudly voicing his support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein last week while riding in an Egged passenger bus.
The case was one of a string of security incidents linked in one way or another to the Persian Gulf crisis.
Sa’adi Ayyish, who got nine months in prison and another nine-month suspended sentence, admitted he and a companion beat a fellow passenger who told them to shut up.
His friend, Bani Ibrahim, 25, of Jaffa, has yet to stand trial. He reportedly shouted, “Saddam will burn the Jews and will finish with the state.”
When a passenger angrily objected, they struck him on the neck. The bus driver headed directly for the Kfar Sava police station, where the two Arabs were taken into custody.
Magistrate Zvi Gurfinkel, who pronounced sentence, said, “Passengers in an Israeli bus are entitled, in these tense days, not to hear inflammatory comments connected with the situation in the area.”
He was referring to the escalating Persian Gulf crisis and Hussein’s threat to annihilate Israel with poison gas.
Ayyish, it turned out, faces another sentence on earlier charges of assault.
The confrontation with Iraq may also have figured in the reported assault on South African tourist Paul Olsen, who was stabbed Tuesday in his leg, hand and face.
Olsen, 28, told police that two knife-wielding Arabs jumped him near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. They had yelled, “American, American.”
Palestinian Arabs have staged anti-American demonstrations in recent days to protest the dispatch of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
In another incident Tuesday, Yair Saporadi, a 50-year-old Israeli who drives Arab laborers to work, said he was attacked by two Arabs while waiting for his passengers in a forest hut near Jerusalem.
According to Saporadi, who required hospitalization, he was beaten with iron bars and wooden sticks. His assailants also stole his van.