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5 arrested over shooting death of Islamic Movement leader in Jaffa

4 men, 1 woman held in connection with killing of Muhammad Abu Nijm, which police say was linked to a conflict between families for control over local businesses

The scene where Mohammad Abu Nijm was shot on January 24, 2021 in Jaffa (Israel Police)
The scene where Mohammad Abu Nijm was shot on January 24, 2021 in Jaffa (Israel Police)

Police said Tuesday they had arrested five people in connection with the deadly shooting of an official in the Islamic Movement in the central city of Jaffa in January.

Police said the arrests were the result of a wide-ranging undercover investigation that concluded the killing was part of a feud between families over control of businesses in the city.

Mohammad Abu Nijm, a well-known activist in the political movement, and his nephew, Omar Kurdi, were injured when a gunman opened fire on January 24.

The two were taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon for treatment, where Abu Nijm later succumbed to his injuries.

According to Channel 12 news, the investigation revealed the murder was part of  a conflict between families in Jaffa that has claimed at least 10 victims.

Abu Nijm, 39, had no criminal background but was connected to one of the families that was party to the conflict.

The report said police concluded that those arrested — four men and one woman, all in their 20s — knew the victims and were residents of the same Jaffa neighborhood.

Abu Nijm was a well-known activist in the Islamic Movement, a political organization, religious outreach group and social service provider founded in the 1970s. The movement split two decades ago — the more moderate southern branch is represented by the coalition’s Ra’am party, while the more hardline northern branch has been outlawed in Israel.

Arab Israeli cities and towns have seen a dramatic spike in violence over the past several years. Government officials, both Arab and Jewish, have said organized crime is driving the body count.

Arab Israelis argue that police neither enforce the law in their cities nor work to solve murders in Arab communities. Police charge that Arabs do not cooperate with investigations by law enforcement, leading to low rates of success.

Some 46 Arab Israelis have been killed in homicides since the beginning of 2021, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit organization.

In 2020, around 70 percent of homicide victims in Israel were Arab, although Arab Israelis constitute just 20 percent of the population.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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