JERUSALEM — It was brutally graphic video that shocked and shamed: An African asylum seeker was shot by an Israeli security guard who mistook him for an assailant in a terrorist attack. Then an enraged mob stomped and cursed him as he lay bleeding on the floor of a bus station.
While images of the growing Arab-Israeli tensions have dominated the news here for weeks — showing Palestinian attackers wielding knives, often shot by Israeli forces — the video from Sunday’s assault offered a vivid tableau of Israelis’ fear and anger at the spiraling violence.
It also appeared to display hard reactions from Israeli security forces and guards, whose tactics have drawn harsh criticism — especially from Palestinians — that Israelis are using excessive force instead of trying to apprehend suspects.
Since the start of October, eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in nearly 30 attacks that have raised the specter of a wider Palestinian uprising. At least 18 of the assailants were shot and killed on the spot by police, soldiers, security guards or civilians.
The Israeli police launched an investigation into what local media described as a “lynching” Sunday against an innocent man — a 29-year-old refugee from Eritrea named Haftom Zarhum — who was shot amid the chaos of an attack at a bus station in the southern city of Beersheba that left an Israeli soldier dead.
Doctors at Soroka Medical Center said Zarhum died from a combination of the bullet wound and the subsequent beating by the crowd.
In the attack, an Israeli Bedouin Arab man killed a 19-year-old soldier, Omri Levy, whose military rifle was taken and used by the assailant to wound a dozen Israelis. Police said the Eritrean asylum seeker was shot by a security guard who mistakenly thought he was a second attacker.
The video shows a wounded Zarhum curled on the floor as men enter the frame to kick him in the head. A few people drop a line of bus station seats on the man. Another man pins the wounded African on the floor between the legs of a stool as a crowd closes in. The crowd can be heard shouting “Death to Arabs!” and “The people of Israel live!”
The attack, which took place in the Negev desert city’s central bus station during the busy rush-hour period, followed more than three weeks of daily attacks by Palestinians against Israelis that have left the country shaken and suspicious.
Israel’s internal security agency identified the Beersheba attacker as Mohind al-Okbi, 21, a resident of a nearby Bedouin village. Some Bedouins in Israel serve as trackers in the Israeli military, but many identify with the Palestinians, sharing their religion, language and other cultural traits.
The mayor of the nearby Bedouin town of Hura, Mohammed al-Nabari, denounced the attack on the Israeli solider. “We utterly and unreservedly condemn this despicable act and reject violence of any sort,” he said. “You cannot be both a terrorist and a citizen of the country — the two are inherently contradictory.”
Earlier, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who was photographed visiting a Palestinian neighborhood with his Glock pistol, urged all Israelis with gun permits to carry their weapons.
Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have hailed previous quick actions by police against assailants — actions that Netanyahu and most Israelis say have saved Jewish lives.
On Monday, Netanyahu said Israeli civilians should leave the scene of attacks and allow security and rescue forces to work. “We’re a nation of laws,” the prime minister said. “No one may take the law into their hands.”
He added that police were examining security tapes in attempts to identify those who assaulted Zarhum as he lay wounded.
Zarhum was part of a wave of 50,000 economic migrants and asylum seekers, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, who poured into Israel beginning in 2007 — before Israel built a fence along its border with Egypt in 2013. Now Israel is pressing the Eritreans, who have been labeled as “infiltrators,” to accept one-way plane tickets home and $3,500 in cash. Those who refuse can face detention at a holding facility. Many Eritreans say that if they return home, they will be thrown in prison for leaving the country without permission or for fleeing forced military conscription that human rights groups have compared to modern-day slavery.
Sunday’s attack in Beersheba came a day after three Palestinian attackers wielding knives were shot dead by Israelis and two other Palestinian assailants were shot and wounded.
In Madrid, Secretary of State John F. Kerry called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to end the current “senseless” violence.
Ahead of meetings with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry said Monday that he would work with both leaders to try to reduce tensions, though exactly how the American diplomat will do that is unclear. Kerry is expected to meet with Netanyahu in Berlin this week and Abbas in Jordan over the weekend.
According to Israeli security services, most of the attacks on Israelis have been carried out by solo assailants not related to any militant Palestinian factions. Many of the attackers have been teenagers using kitchen knives, and most of the assaults have taken place in Jerusalem.
On Sunday, as part of crackdown measures approved last week by the Israeli security cabinet, Israeli police erected a 10-yard-long concrete wall between the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber and the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem.
The move drew sharp criticism and prompted newspaper headlines Monday about a repartitioning of Jerusalem.
The current escalation was sparked, in part, by Palestinian resentment over restricted access to the compound at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City and by visits by Jewish activists and government ministers who arrive at the site accompanied by armed Israeli police.
The site is revered by Muslims, who refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel intends to honor the status quo that reserves the area for Muslim prayer.
Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.