A teenager, who hailed from the north-eastern Indian Jewish community of Bnei Menashe and immigrated to Israel from India less than a year ago, was stabbed to death after a fight broke out at a birthday party in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona, media reports said on Friday.
Yoel Lehingahel, 18, who immigrated to Israel from India with his family earlier this year, travelled north from his home in Nof Hagalil to visit a friend and fellow immigrant from India, media reports said.
A brawl involving more than 20 teens broke out at a birthday party which was attended by Lehingahel, Meir Paltiel, who works with the community of Indian Jewish immigrants to Israel, told news portal Ynet.
“Lehingahel was supposed to come home for Shabbat, but in the morning [Friday] at 7 am, a friend called [the family] and told them there had been a fight last night and that he was injured and in hospital,” Paltiel told the news portal.
“The family didn’t even manage to leave for the hospital in Safed before they were told he had died,” he said.
Police reportedly arrested a 15-year-old resident from the nearby town of Chatzor Haglilit on suspicion of being involved in the incident.
On Friday, police said they had detained another seven youths, between the ages of 13 and 15, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.
Nof Hagalil’s Mayor, Ronen Plot, in a social media post called it “his town’s loss”, describing Lehingahel as a “happy” boy who had expressed his desire to join a combat unit of the Israeli army.
“A whole life cut short because of an act of violence, which in my eyes was an act of terror in every way”, Plot said.
A social worker who had worked with Lehingahel through his absorption process in Israel and was identified as Shlomo by Channel 12 network said “he had acclimatised amazingly and was loved by all his friends”.
“He never got into arguments or into fights with anyone. He only went out to a party with a friend and was just injured in this unthinkable way. It’s difficult news for all of us,” Shlomo said.
Lehingahel was a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community that has been immigrating to Israel over the past two decades from north- eastern Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram.
The Bnei Menashe are believed to be descendants of the biblical tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago.
In 2005, then-Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar declared them descendants of Israel paving the way to their immigration to Israel.
Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe community members are said to have immigrated to Israel in recent years.