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2 charged with shooting at home of senior cop fighting crime in Arab towns

Indictment says lawyer Osama Khatib, irate over commander Jamal Hakrush’s intervention in gang conflict, paid 2nd defendant Mohammad Abu Samra $2,000 to help shoot at his home

Israel Police commander Jamal Hakrush attends a Public Security Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel Police commander Jamal Hakrush attends a Public Security Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two suspects were charged Thursday at the Nazareth District Court with firing a volley of shots at the home of senior Arab Israeli police officer Jamal Hakrush in the northern Israeli city of Kafr Kanna in September.

The indictments were filed against Osama Khatib, 33, a resident of Kafr Kanna, and Mohammad Abu Samra, 21, from the northern city of Haifa.

According to the indictment, Khatib, who is a lawyer, was angered by Hakrush’s unit intervening in a violent gang conflict in Kafr Kanna because it went against his interest. He then allegedly contacted Abu Samra to help fire shots at Hakrush’s home.

Khatib acquired an M-16 rifle and two magazines with bullets, the prosecution said. On September 10, the two men drove to Hakrush’s home in a car belonging to Abu Samra. Khatib, who was masked at the time, allegedly got out of the car and fired five bullets at the door of the parking garage, causing damage.

Khatib allegedly paid Abu Samra $2,000 for his help.

There were no injuries in the shooting.

Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, speaking earlier this week at the opening of a meeting of senior officers in the city of Modiin, said the shooting was apparently carried out just because Hakrush is in uniform.

“It is an attempt to chip away at law and order and deter the Israel Police,” Shabtai said.

The shots that were fired at Hakrush’s home were in essence “fired at the home of every officer in the police,” he said, vowing the force would not be deterred.

Hakrush directs a unit whose mission is to fight rising crime in Arab cities and towns.

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly by organized crime.

Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai on January 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Since the beginning of 2021, there have been 106 Arabs killed in suspected homicides, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit. Some 90 were citizens of Israel, and another 16 were Palestinians, either from East Jerusalem or with Israeli residency.

The most recent incident was on Friday when Mahmoud Hasarma, 38, from the northern town of Bi’na was shot dead in Nahariya.

Arab Israelis blame 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.

According to a 2020 Knesset report, some 400,000 illegal weapons are circulating in Israel, the vast majority in Arab communities.

In August, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity,” as he met with senior government and police officials to formulate a national plan to tackle the issue.

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