3 Arab Israelis shot dead in separate incidents on Sunday, as crime wave persists

Apparent crime gang murders in Reineh, Yarka and Lod bring homicide death toll in community to 68 this year, according to Abraham Initiatives

Ambulances at the scene of a shooting in Lod on May 5, 2024. (Magen David Adom)
Ambulances at the scene of a shooting in Lod on May 5, 2024. (Magen David Adom)

Three Arab Israelis were killed Sunday in three separate incidents of suspected gangland violence, as a deadly crime wave continues to rock the community.

In the morning, a man named in media reports as Muhammad Abu Rabia was shot dead in the northern town of Reineh.

In the evening, a 23-year-old resident of Yarka was shot dead in the northern Druze village.

Police said an initial investigation had indicated the suspected murder was committed as part of a conflict between crime gangs.

The dead man was named by Hebrew media as Haitham Amoun, whose father was murdered a year ago and whose brother was killed in 2020.

And a few hours later, a man in his 30s was shot in the central Israel city of Lod. Medics said he was taken in critical condition to Shamir Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Police began an investigation into that incident.

The Abraham Initiatives, a coexistence watchdog that monitors violent crime in the Arab community, said 68 Arabs have been killed so far in 2024 in incidents of violent crime.

More Arabs were murdered in 2023 than in any previous year, according to a year-end report published by the Abraham Initiatives.

The report by the Abraham Initiatives, which has worked extensively on relations between the Israel Police and Arab Israelis, roundly blamed the sharp uptick in homicides on far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terror organization over anti-Arab placards, and whose ministry is responsible for policing.

Many Arab Israeli community leaders put the blame for the rising murders on 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. More than half of Arab Israelis live under the poverty line, and their cities and towns often have crumbling infrastructure and poor public services. The government issues economic rankings to all the country’s cities from 1 to 10. Almost no Arab city scores higher than 5.

Meanwhile, authorities have blamed burgeoning organized crime and the proliferation of weaponry, while some have pointed to a failure by communities to cooperate with law enforcement to root out criminals.

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