Palestinian migrant who arrived via Mexico allegedly beat homeowner after stealing US-Israel flag

"Living in America, I never thought this would happen to me," the victim said.

Published: February 7, 2024 8:50am

A Palestinian migrant who entered the United States through Mexico over the summer is now facing hate crime charges after New York police say he stole a sign and a combined U.S.-Israeli flag from a yard and then beat the homeowner while shouting antisemitic slurs. 

Bechir Lehbeib, 26, pleaded not guilty to three charges of hate crime-related robbery, assault and criminal mischief, criminal records show. His bail was set at $50,000 on Tuesday.

Lehbeib told law enforcement he is a Palestinian from North Africa. Officials said he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the summer and made an asylum claim, Fox News Digital reported Wednesday.

"Living in America, I never thought this would happen to me. As a Jew, we live here happily. Feels a little bit disgusting that this happened to us, these hate crimes should be stopped," the victim homeowner, Aleksandr Binyaminov, said, according to NBC New York.

Lehbeib on Sunday approached the Nassau County home, which displayed the joint flag and a sign that said "We stand with Israel," and he grabbed both of them and left, officials said.

Binyaminov said he heard his Ring doorbell go off and he approached the man. "When I grabbed the flag away from him, he was saying 'I’m from Palestine, you Jews are killing Palestinians,'" Binyaminov said. 

Video shows Lehbeib making an obscene gesture and leaving. Binyaminov then chased him on his child's bicycle and caught up several houses away. 

Lehbeib hit the homeowner when confronted, video shows, and the two began to fight. 

"These are not the type of people who come to America like my great-grandparents did, like your great-grandparents and grandparents and parents who came to America to kiss the ground," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said Tuesday.

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