Palestinian Migrant Accused of Anti-Semitic Assault on Homeowner After Stealing Israeli Flag

Anti-Israel rally at Columbia (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
February 7, 2024

A Palestinian migrant from North Africa on Sunday allegedly stole an Israeli flag and pro-Israel banner before assaulting a Long Island owner and spewing anti-Semitic slurs.

Bechir Lehbeib, a 26-year-old asylum seeker, stole from outside a home a combination U.S.-Israeli flag and a banner that read, "In this home we stand with Israel," police said. When the homeowner caught up to him to recover the property, there was a physical altercation in which Lehbeib allegedly punched the victim.

The owner eventually took back his property, but Lehbeib attacked him again, wrestling the flag and banner out of his hands before stomping on them and "stating his dislike for Jewish people," the Nassau County Police Department's statement read.

"Basically saying, 'kill all the Jews' and other heinous crimes and indignities," Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman (R.) said at a news conference.

Lehbeib told the victim he was Palestinian, made threatening statements, and then ran away, officials said, according to ABC 7. He had stayed in a migrant shelter in Staten Island and a home in Queens. District Attorney Anne Donnelly (R.) charged him with robbery, assault, and criminal mischief, all of them as hate crimes.

Police notified the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force of the incident, Fox News reported.

Fox also reported that Lehbeib entered the country from Mexico through Arizona over the summer, though ABC 7's reporting said he arrived in November.

The attack came about a week after a group of migrants allegedly beat up police officers in Times Square, leading Gov. Kathy Hochul (D.) to call for their deportation. Hochul is not the only Democrat to have made strong comments about the migrant crisis. New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) last month called on the federal government to "deal with" it at his State of the City address. He previously said that the issue would "destroy New York City."