Three killed, several injured as Arab community rocked by string of shootings

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A teen and two men in their 30s were killed within hours late Tuesday and early Wednesday, in a string of deadly shootings and other violent incidents that also left nearly 20 people injured in towns across the country.

The killings occurred in Shfaram, Kafr Kanna and Rahat, bringing the number of Arabs killed in violent circumstances this year to 109. At the same point in 2022, 46 people in the community had been killed.

The police described most of the incidents as the result of criminal disputes. No arrests were announced.

In the northern town of Shfaram, a 32-year-old resident of the city was shot at around 10 p.m., police said. The victim, identified in media reports as Amir Sua’ad, was declared dead after being rushed to Haifa’s Rambam hospital.

About half an hour later, a 30-year-old Nazareth resident was shot to death in nearby Kafr Kanna, according to police. The man, reportedly killed while in his car, was identified in the press as Ashraf Elbarji. According to the Walla news site, he had been visiting family in Kafr Kanna for the holiday of Eid al-Adha when he was killed. The news site claimed the killing was related to an ongoing gang war between two powerful rival clans.

Shortly before midnight, a 17-year-old was killed in Rahat, a large Bedouin city in Israel’s south.

Amir Sua’ad who was shot dead in Shfar’am, June 27, 2023. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

At least 18 other people were injured in other shootings, according to Channel 12 news.

One man, 28, was shot and seriously injured in Iksal, southeast of Nazareth, while in a barbershop with his son. CCTV footage showed a gunman walking into the store and opening fire at the victim, sitting next to a young boy. Patrons could be seen scrambling to escape the room as the gunman fired several shots at the victim, with the young boy screaming in fear.

In Kafr Qara, near Haifa, two people were injured in another shooting, including one person in serious condition, police said. The Ynet outlet reported that the pair were a father and son.

Since the beginning of the year, 109 Arabs have been killed violently in Israel, according to the Abraham Initiatives, which tracks violent crime in the Arab community. Of those, 96 were shot dead, 50 were under the age of 30, and 7 were women.

On Sunday, two men were shot dead in the northern Arab town of Nahf.

Authorities have appeared largely powerless to stop the bloodletting, despite promising more resources, including more police and funds to deal with societal issues underpinning the crime wave.

Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars, and violence against women. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.

President Isaac Herzog meets with Arab women who have lost loved ones to violent crime, the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, June 25, 2023 (Haim Zach/GPO)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right lawmaker who campaigned on promises to beef up public safety, has largely stayed quiet on the soaring crimewave.

Analysts say the killings have been driven by underworld violence fueled by powerful gangs engaged in extortion, loan sharking, protection rackets and other criminal activities.

On Saturday, hundreds of people, among them Arab members of Knesset, protested against what they called police apathy in dealing with the soaring crime rates, the Ynet news site reported.

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