25-year-old man shot dead in northern Druze-majority town of Isfiya

Victim identified as Omri Fero, reportedly shot by two assailants while sitting in a car, as part of a turf war between rival crime families

Illustrative: Police at the scene of a double murder in Isfiya, northern Israel, April 13, 2024. (Israel Police)
Illustrative: Police at the scene of a double murder in Isfiya, northern Israel, April 13, 2024. (Israel Police)

A 25-year-old man was shot dead Sunday evening in the northern Druze-majority town of Isfiya, medics said.

Magen David Adom medics who arrived on the scene found the man, later identified by Hebrew media as Omri Fero, in critical condition, with gunshot wounds. He was taken to Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Ynet news site reported that two armed assailants had shot Fero as he was sitting in a car. Police reportedly believe the shooting had to do with a dispute involving Fero’s relatives.

Haaretz reported that Fero was the town’s fifth homicide victim in a month, adding that it was linked to a bloody turf war between two crime families.

No arrests were immediately reported in connection to the killing, which takes the number of Arab victims of violent crime this year to 70. However, Hebrew media reported that a burning car was found near Isfiya, speculating that it could have been used by the perpetrators and adding that police and fire and rescue personnel were at the scene.

Gangland homicides have roiled Israel’s Arab community for months, particularly in the north. On April 13, two men in their mid-20s, Khalil Khayuf and Tamer Atashe, were gunned down in Isfiya. The two were reportedly members of the Abu Latif crime family.

A couple of weeks later, the remains of their relatives, Amid Abu Rukun and Tamer Khayuf, both in their early 30s, were discovered near the northern town of Rameh. Police suspected they had been killed while scouting on a rival syndicate in a plot to avenge their relatives’ deaths.

Posted by ‎עומרי פרו‎ on Monday, October 4, 2021

Law enforcement have been unable to stem the tide of violence in the Arab community, in what State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman has said is a “resounding failure” by authorities.

The Abraham Initiatives, a coexistence advocacy group, has pinned the blame on National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for having gutted a program put in place by the previous government to reverse the worrying trend. The group also places some of the responsibility on Ben Gvir’s ally, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, for siphoning off millions from the program to fund yeshiva stipends.

In its 2023 year-end report — which found that year to have been the bloodiest on record for Arab citizens of Israel — the Abraham Initiatives found that a plurality of the 244 homicides had happened in the north, which the group attributed to turf wars among rival gangs.

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