Hundreds of mourners on Friday attended a funeral held for five members of the Daleeka family gunned down in the northern Bedouin town of Basmat Tab’un, in one of the deadliest mass shootings to occur this year amid surging criminal violence in the Arab community.
The attack claimed the lives of brothers Walid, 17, and Adam, 14; Zeinab, 43, and her 23-year-old son Mohammad Hussein; and their relative Rabih, 20. Another member of the family, Hassan Daleeka, 18, was the only one of those shot to survive, while Ahmad, 18, managed to flee without being hit.
During the funeral ceremony, mourners called for police to track down the assailants and not ignore the killings.
“We must stand up before it’s too late. We know that the state and police want us like this, killing each other, but why must we give them this?” Sheikh Nasser Darawshe charged in the mourning tent before the procession, according to the Haaretz daily.
He called the violence in Arab towns “a civil war,” accusing community leaders of lacking the moxie to fight the criminals.
“Where are they at the funeral? Why aren’t they taking part,” Darawshe asked.
Due to fears the mourners could next be targeted, members of the family asked the press to only take pictures inside the ceremony, according to the newspaper, which said a photographer from Hala TV required medical attention after one of the funeral participants attacked him.
Police have linked Wednesday’s massacre to a deadly shooting in Haifa hours earlier, angering members of the Daleeka family, with one saying “this is a complete lie.”
“We didn’t receive any threat and we weren’t in conflict. Those who are in conflict fear for their lives and don’t sit in an open yard,” said Rafi, the uncle of Ahmad.
On Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara gave permission to police to use the controversial Pegasus phone spyware tool as they investigate the Basmat Tab’un shooting.
Her approval came as the government was set to form a committee to examine law enforcement’s use of spyware technology in the wake of a scandal that broke out in 2022 over police usage of sophisticated cellphone hacking technology to obtain access to citizens’ devices.
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai arrived at the scene of the mass shooting in Basmat Tab’un on Wednesday, with far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir joining him.
According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, 190 Arabs in Israel have been killed in violent circumstances this year, compared to 80 during 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.
Ben Gvir, who is responsible for the police force, has also faced criticism that he is not doing enough to curb the violence.