Palestinian Migrant Faces Hate Crime Charges

( — On Sunday, February 4, 26-year-old Bechir Lehbeib, who claims to be a Palestinian migrant from northern Africa, was walking through a residential neighborhood in Long Island, New York, when he saw a pair of pro-Israel flags adorning one of the homes. One was an Israeli American flag, while the other declared that the occupants “stand with Israel.” He took offense, and then he took the flags.

Seeing the theft on his Ring security camera, the homeowner, Aleksandr Binyaminov, quickly dressed and chased Lehbeib down to demand the return of his property. Lehbeib responded with a physical attack, apparently shouting that he was from Palestine and Jews were killing Palestinians. Binyaminov said that he was choked and thrown to the ground in the attack. Binyaminov suffered bruising and “substantial pain to his head.” He commented that he understands that Lehbeib may be facing felony charges, but that was a result of his choices.

After his arrest, Lehbeib continued to make violent and antiSemitic remarks. He is being charged with hate crimes involving robbery, assault, and criminal mischief. His bail has been set at $50,000, and he was required to surrender his passport. Lehbeib entered the U.S. at the Mexican border in Arizona over the summer, claiming to be seeking asylum. When arrested, he gave as his address two New York City migrant shelters, one on Staten Island and the other in Queens.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman commented that it was suspicious that Lehbeib was in the area at all that day, as neither of the shelters he was staying at was close by, and he apparently had to take a bus from Queens to get there. Lehbeib claims to have been looking for work. However, as he told police during his arrest, “there will be a problem” whenever he sees any Israeli flags. Blakeman criticized the current situation with unvetted migrants crossing into the U.S. across the border and pointed out that Nassau County isn’t a sanctuary county.

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