Police and the Shin Bet security service on Wednesday announced the arrests of three suspects in last week’s shooting of a mayoral candidate in Nazareth and his two relatives.
Musab Dukhan, his brother and his cousin were shot and lightly injured in the August 28 incident in the northern city.
The shooting came amid an unrelenting violent crime wave in Arab Israeli communities that has increasingly spilled into municipal politics, particularly in Nazareth.
In their statement, police and the Shin Bet said that after days of investigation, the three suspects were arrested overnight in an apartment that served as a hideout.
Other details of the case, including the suspects’ identities, remained gagged under a court order.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the news of the arrests. The premier has been pushing for the Shin Bet to assist in combating criminal violence in Arab towns, particularly relating to the upcoming municipal elections.
“We are determined to continue fighting and to defeat the criminal organizations in Arab society,” he said.
Dukhan, a current councilmember who is challenging incumbent Mayor Ali Salam in the October 31 election, was also targeted a month ago with shots fired toward his home, although no one was hurt in that incident.
He recently took part in a meeting aimed at acting against the violent crime epidemic gripping the Arab community, saying, “We must protest against the violence and the murder, and not let it pass in silence. We need to be strong and not give up. It isn’t enough to speak. The struggle could give us personal safety.”
There have also been other recent instances of political violence in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, including the arrest last week of two people suspected of threatening Salam and the killing last month of Deputy Mayor Muhammad Awaisy’s son. Another son of the deputy mayor was killed in March.
According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, 169 members of the Arab community have been killed in homicides since the start of the year, with the record-breaking pace of murders showing little sign of slowing. There were 75 murders over the same period in 2022.
The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence. They also point to decades of neglect and discrimination by government offices as the root cause of the problem.
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.
On Tuesday the Arab community went on strike as municipal leaders called for the establishment of an emergency committee to fight the relentless crime wave, blaming the Israeli government for the spate of killings in the Arab community and accusing it of neglecting Arab Israeli citizens.