(JNi.media) An Israeli Arab student from the village of Mu’awiya, in the Wadi Ara area of the Haifa District. last week was bumped from a bus during a trip, after passengers suspected that she was a terrorist, Ha’aretz reported Sunday.
The incident occurred last Sunday, on Egged bus line 870, connecting Afula and Be’er Sheva. Around 11:00 AM, Bayan Khaled boarded the bus at the stop nearest her home, in the city of Umm al-Fahm. The ride began as usual, and, according to Khalid, she even said hello to the driver, because the two have known each other since she often takes this route.
According the Egged bus company, during the trip two soldiers who were passengers on the same bus, approached the driver and one of them told him that his father is a senior police officer, and that he recognizes the Arab passenger—Khaled—from police wanted pictures of terrorists.
The bus company also claims that besides approaching the driver, the soldier also called the police on his own initiative and asked for instructions. The soldier was ordered to “act naturally” and ask the driver to stop at the gas station on Route 6, where police cars would be waiting.
The driver did as he was told, and in a short time police entered the bus, and approached Khaled, who presented her identity card and student ID. The police demanded that she get off the bus with her bags for questioning, which lasted about ten minutes. During questioning, the bus drove off without her and so did the police, when it became clear that there was no basis for suspicion.
Khaled remained on the margins of the highway, where there is no bus stop, without any possibility of continuing the trip. Later, her father had to drive there and take her back home to Mu’awiya.
Khaled, 23, is a Nursing graduate student at Ben Gurion University, and works as director of the center of the Clalit HMO in Be’er Sheva. Since the incident, she has not gone back to her job. “It hurt me mentally, I’m traumatized. I never thought that I would experience something like that, I’m still in shock,” she told Ha’aretz. “The driver went straight back to the bus and did not wait for me. He didn’t care what would happen to me afterwards.” Khaled demanded the driver’s name, but Egged refused to provide it.
A warning letter prior to legal action sent by Khaled’s attorney demands to receive the driver’s personal information and for the company to take disciplinary action against him. Also, Khaled will be asking for compensation in the amount of approximately $12,000, for humiliation and interference with their rights.
An Egged spokesman said in response that he believes the claim would be rejected. He also said “the incident was embarrassing and unusual and took place during the days of attacks by individuals directed at the Jewish community in general and bus users in particular. The driver acted as required when he stopped the bus at the Alonit service area on Highway 6. … Moreover, the driver acted as he had been instructed by police, who ordered him to close the door of the bus and drive away from the scene after removing the suspect. The driver has no discretion but to act as he did according to police guidelines on the matter.”
According to Egged, company representatives called up Khaled at home on the day of the incident and offered to pay a considerable cost for a taxi to take her to Be’er Sheva. They also offered her to board the next number 870 bus free of charge, but she refused, saying her father was already in touch with an attorney.