Police minister vows to bring killer to justice

4-year-old boy killed by gunfire at playground in northern village

Police say Omran Muhammad Hujayrat apparently hit by stray gunfire from nearby construction site in Bir al-Maksur; eyewitness says he was shot in front of his mother

Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat (Courtesy)
Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat (Courtesy)

A four-year-old child died on Thursday after he was shot in the northern village of Bir al-Maksur.

The boy was in a playground when he was shot, and police said it was believed he was hit by stray gunfire from a construction site some 300 meters away.

The boy was shot in front of his aunt, the family said.

The child was later named as Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat.

Police said a manhunt was underway for the suspects in the shooting.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who is responsible for police, said it was “heartbreaking” to hear of Hujayrat’s death and vowed that law enforcement authorities “won’t rest until the gunmen are brought to justice.”

“We will fight the crime and violence that are mercilessly harming the Arab public,” he tweeted.

Medics initially said Hujayrat was unconscious and he was treated for injuries to his upper body. He was taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment and a medical team declared his death due to injuries to his head and neck.

The playground where a 4-year-old was shot in Bir al-Maksur on January 6, 2022 (Screen grab/Ynet)

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.

Arab Israelis blame 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 Arab community has also suffered from decades of neglect.

The Abraham Initiatives, which monitors and campaigns against violence in the Arab community, said there were 125 Arabs killed in Israel in 2021 as a result of violence and crime, of whom 62 were below the age of 30.

Meanwhile, statistics released on Tuesday by the Firearms Licensing Division of the Public Security Ministry showed a spike in gun license applications, coming amid what observers say is a flood of illegal weapons into Arab communities.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev have vowed to crack down on the violence as well as illegal weapons.

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