Two residents of Tira were shot dead Saturday at a cafe in the central Israel town, capping the latest bloody weekend for an Arab community contending with an unrelenting wave of deadly crime.
Majed Yusef and Ayman Nasser were rushed to the hospital where they succumbed to their wounds. A third victim was also wounded in the shooting but his injuries were designated as minor.
Police said they arrested four residents of Tira on suspicion of involvement in the murder and seized a gun they believe was used to carry out the crime. A police source told Haaretz that the roughly 20-year-old Yusef was not believed to have been a target in the shooting but that officers are looking into whether the attack was in response to a shooting that took place early morning Friday in which two other Tira residents were killed.
A witness of the Saturday shooting said that gunmen opened fire at the cafe using automatic weapons. “More than 30 bullets were fired, and there were children in the area,” one witness recalled.
Another witness, Muhammad Masri, said that residents fear another revenge attack will take place following Saturday’s shooting.
Also on Friday, 36-year-old Fatima Qatawi was found dead at a construction site in the Sharon region. Qatawi was a mother of five from the Arab town of Zemer. Police arrested a suspect in the murder, which came on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Arab communities in Israel have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.
Arab Israelis say police have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and for years largely ignored the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women.
The Arab community has also suffered from decades of government neglect.
The Abraham Initiatives, which monitors and campaigns against violence in the Arab community, said 98 Arab Israeli citizens were killed in apparent homicides this year. Another four Palestinians have been killed in Israeli territory.
Thirteen of those killed in violent and crime-related incidents this year were women, the nonprofit said.
Last year, 125 Arabs — an all-time record — were killed in Israel as a result of violence and crime.