Massive brawl outside Israeli hospital leaves four injured, 19 arrested

“I never saw anything like this,” said the emergency room director of the fight between two long-feuding Bedouin families.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Dozens of men from two long-feuding Bedouin families clashed outside Soroka Hospital in Beersheba Sunday evening, after several relatives injured in a previous fight came in for treatment.

Four people were injured lightly in the massive brawl in which blows were exchanged, rocks hurled and knives and guns used. Two of those hurt had been knifed and two were gun victims.

“I’ve been a doctor for nearly 30 years, and I have never seen something like this at a hospital.” Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs, the Emergency Room (ER) director who was on duty at the time told Radio 103FM Monday.

The staff had just treated two men who had been badly beaten, he said, and had come to the hospital under their own power. Shortly thereafter, two stabbing victims arrived. “We didn’t understand that the two events were related,” he said.

That’s when the shouting and shooting began next to the parking lot near the ER entrance.

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“I told everyone outside to come in to the emergency room, and we closed the door and waited for the police and our security guards to deal with the people,” he said.

“There was total anarchy,” hospital director Shlomi Kadosh told Kan News. It only lasted “about five minutes,” he added, because police were already on site due to the earlier knife attack, which had been reported to the authorities.

Nineteen suspects from the Bedouin town of Rahat were arrested, and an hour later the hospital reopened with the police announcement that “order has been restored.”

In videos of the rioting, hospital security could be seen looking on but not getting involved. Kadosh defended their non-action.

“Physical and verbal violence have happened [at the hospital],” he said. “Gunfire is a completely different story…. I expect the police to station an officer permanently in the ER department.”

Schwarzfuchs called the incident “a window into what happens outside of the hospital.”

Deputy mayor of Beersheba went even further.

“What’s going on here is madness,” he said. “Not only did we lose Beersheba, we lost the whole country. Shots in a hospital are a red line that cannot be crossed.”

Crime in the Negev, much of it ascribed to the Bedouin, has shot up in recent years, leaving many Jews in the south feeling unsafe and hyper-critical of the police, whom they contend are not doing enough to fight back. Inter-clan violence is also a problem, however, as this incident clearly shows.

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The police have said that they are taking the riot extremely seriously and that their “investigations are ongoing.”