Four members of the Arab community were killed in separate shootings Wednesday in one of the deadliest days yet in a wave of community homicides that has already seen more people slain since the beginning of the year than in all of 2022.
The shootings began in Kafr Qara with the killing of Alaa Kna’anah, 30, a resident of the city in the Haifa district of the country.
Later, Amir Wani, 39, was shot dead in Shfaram. Yosef Abu Halel 54, was shot in Ara, and in Nazareth, Abd Al-Kader Ouaisi, 23, was shot dead.
Israel Police reportedly assessed that all of the killings were tied to organized crime.
Police believe that Ouaisi was killed as part of a land feud that has already cost the lives of several people. Ouaisi is the nephew of Nazareth Deputy Mayor Mahmoud Ouiasi, whose own son was gunned down earlier this year.
Abd Al-Kader Ouaisi was brought in a critical condition to the city’s EMMS Hospital on Wednesday and later declared dead.
When his death was announced, family members at the hospital began to riot, causing significant damage to the emergency room and the ambulance that brought him in, Channel 13 reported.
According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence monitor, the killings brought to 121 the number of Arab community members who have died in violent crime since the start of the year. The total for 2022 was 116.
Of those killed so far in 2023, 109 were shot dead, the group said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the killing of a dentist outside his home in the northern town of Jatt took this year’s death above the 2022 total in just under half the time.
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MK Mansour Abbas, chair of the Islamist Ra’am party, panned the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it was not doing anything to end the violence.
“Four murders today, 120 since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Many hundreds of injured, thousands of ruined families, and an entire community that has been abandoned to organized crime.”
“Not a single decision or signifiant step has been taken since the establishment of the government,” Abbas said.
“Thank you government of Israel, well done Netanyahu. The successful appointment of the minister of national security restored order and brought governance and self-confidence to the criminal organizations,” he said.
Opposition National Unity leader MK Benny Gantz criticized government policy, saying in a statement it is “harming the ability to deal with the scourge of violence and lack of governance.
“Instead of fighting crime and saving human lives – this government is fighting protesters and the justice system,” Gantz said referring to protests against the coalition’s controversial efforts to overhaul the judiciary, mass protests against the plan, and police handling of the demonstrations.
He said his party will, in the coming weeks, introduce bills to fight crime.
“A national calamity is not overcome with words, but with actions.,” Gantz said.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right lawmaker who campaigned on promises to beef up public safety, has largely stayed quiet on the soaring crimewave.
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 primary cause of the problem.