2 shot dead within hours as gun violence spikes in Arab Israeli towns

Murders of Edib Dirawi and Iyad Badir are third and fourth killings in a week; Joint List head vows to make fight on crime in Arab communities top priority for next government

(From L) Edib Dirawi and Iyad Badir, who were murdered on September 20, 2019. (Courtesy)
(From L) Edib Dirawi and Iyad Badir, who were murdered on September 20, 2019. (Courtesy)

The leader of the Joint List party vowed Saturday that tackling crime in Arab Israeli communities would be his main priority in the new Knesset, a day after two men were shot dead in apparent criminal killings just three hours apart in northern Israel.

The murders of Edib Dirawi and Iyad Badir on Friday were the third and fourth such instances this week and brought the number of deaths by homicides in the Arab community this year to 62.

“The elections are over but the plague of crime in the Arab community continues. Four deaths in two days,” tweeted Ayman Odeh, the chairman of Joint List, an alliance of Arab and Arab majority parties, which will be the third biggest faction in the Knesset.

“This will be the first issue we deal with,” Odeh said. “We have no choice but to bring security back to our streets and [allow people to] live in a society without weapons.”

Witnesses told Hebrew media that Dirawi was sitting in his car in the town of Kafr Yasif when an assailant approached and fired several times, striking him in the chest.

The 38-year-old car dealer was rushed to a nearby hospital in an ambulance, but was pronounced dead on the way.

Police opened up an investigation into the incident but no arrests have been made.

The shooting took place in front of a group of onlookers of various ages.

Illustrative photo of a traffic police patrol car. (Israel Police spokesperson)

“We immediately fled toward one of the houses and hid until the shooter left. It was very scary. My children have been crying and scared to leave the house since it happened,” one witness told the Ynet news site.  “I don’t understand how anyone has the heart to murder a man in the middle of the street. These people don’t answer to anyone, not even the police. They are rampant and endanger our lives.”

A relative of Dirawi’s said the family was in shock and still waiting for more details surrounding  the incident.

Badir, 36, was shot dead in the Wadi Ara town of Musmus. Witnesses said they saw several suspects flee the residential neighborhood where the incident took place.

One resident of Musmus called him an “honest, upstanding and respectful person who frequently prays at the local mosque.

“Everyone here is surprised. It is unclear to us what could be the motive for the murder,” Badir’s neighbor said.

On Wednesday, a stray bullet fired during a nearby altercation struck and killed 19-year-old Murad Amash in the northern town of Jisr az-Zarqa

On the same day, Muhammad Abu Hussein was murdered in the nearby town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye. His friend was seriously injured from gunfire in the incident.

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