‘State of Emergency’: 159 murders in 234 days in Arab Israeli communities

‘State of Emergency': 159 murders in 234 days in Arab Israeli communities

Six people killed this week in organised crime crisis. Communities don’t trust Israeli police. 

Four people were killed in a shooting in the northern Israeli Arab town of Abu Snan on Tuesday, prompting Israel’s President to describe Israel’s Arab society as in a state of emergency.

Local mayoral candidate Ghazi Saab, a former high-ranking Border Police officer, was murdered in a field in Abu Snan, near Akko. Saab was to formally announce his candidacy on the evening of the murder. Two members of his family and another man from the neighbouring town of Yarka were also killed. 

Just hours later, a Palestinian man was stabbed to death near Lakiya, a Bedouin town in the south of Israel.  Police said Majid Faisel Dais, a Palestinian from the West Bank village of Yatta, south of Hebron, was in Israel illegally and the suspected motive is criminal.

There was another murder on Monday night in the Arab city of Tira. Abed al-Rahman Kashua, director-general of the Tira municipality was shot dead close to the city’s police station. The police said Kashua was not involved in criminal activity and that at this stage they do not believe his killing is related to October’s local elections.

This week’s cases bring to 159 the number of Arab murdered in Israel this year. Most of the murders are believed to be linked to organised crime.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed the shooting in a social media post, stating, “Every citizen in the Arab society in Israel today lives in terrible fear, deep mourning, and imminent dread … This is a state of emergency that requires resolute steps by the state to eradicate crime and violence, and to prevent loss of life.”

All four victims in the Abu Snan attacks were Druze and the Druze community held a strike on Thursday to protest against the failures of the police and the government in enforcing the law and personal security.

In Tira, the municipality announced on Tuesday that it would be suspending operations until further notice and would not cooperate with the Israel Police in their investigation.

“We don’t believe in the police,” said Tira Mayor Maamun Abd Elhai, according to Army Radio. “Give us the funds, and we’ll do the job,” he continued. “This is a direct policy of the government. They want us soaking in blood, [they want us] to leave the country. They don’t know how to catch a kid with a gun. How is that possible?”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Tira murder had “crossed a red line. We can’t allow ourselves to let these murders continue. Criminal gang activity, protection rackets and the control of municipalities.”

“We will use everything available to us – including the Shin Bet and the police – to defeat this criminal activity. We eliminated organised crime in the Jewish sector in Israel, and we will eliminate organised crime in the Arab sector in Israel. Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and should not live under the shadow of domestic terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on the Shin Bet security service to be involved in investigations into murders in the Arab community and pushed for detention without trial. “There will be no avoiding administrative detentions of crime organisation bosses,” he stated, adding that such urgent measures are necessary because the problem poses “a security threat of national proportions.”

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159 Victims in 234 Days: Palestinian man stabbed to death in Bedouin town in southern Israel (Haaretz)

 ‘A State of Emergency’: Quadruple murder in northern Israeli Arab Town sparks unprecedented shock and anger (Haaretz)  

Shin Bet involved in murder investigation of top official in Arab Israeli city (Haaretz)  

Arab community in Israel, shocked by spate of murders, buries victims (Haaretz)  

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Photo: The funeral procession for Tira municipality Director General Abed al-Rahman Kashua in Tira on Wednesday (Moti Milrod)