A mayoral candidate in Nazareth decided Saturday to drop out of next month’s race, weeks after being shot in the northern city.
Musab Dukhan, his brother and his cousin were shot and lightly injured in the August 28 incident in Nazareth, which came amid an unrelenting violent crime wave in Arab Israeli communities that has increasingly spilled into municipal politics — particularly in Nazareth. The Shin Bet security service last week announced three people were arrested over the shooting.
Dukhan confirmed his decision to Panet, an Arabic-language news site, saying he would soon make a formal announcement.
Political sources told the Ynet news site that the decision by Dukhan, a city council member who challenged incumbent Mayor Ali Salam in the October 31 election, was due to threats on his life. He was also targeted in July when shots fired toward his home, although no one was hurt in that case.
“The shooting of Dukhan crossed all red lines,” the unnamed sources were quoted as saying.
“This shows how much the criminals are involved in the elections and want to take out whoever opposes them,” they added, while hitting out at the government over its response to criminal violence in Arab towns.
The Islamist Ra’am party said Dukhan’s decision underscored “the dangerous situation” in Nazareth and urged voters to flock to the polls.
“Every citizen in Nazareth today feels a lack of security for their lives, for the future of their children and the future of Nazareth and its youths,” the party said, according to the Walla news site.
Along with the shooting of Dukha, there have also been other recent instances of political violence in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, including the arrest earlier this month 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.
The Abraham Initiatives coexistence organization, which tracks crime statistics, says a record 174 people in the Arab community have been killed in violent crime since the start of the year, amid a surge in deadly violence, much of it linked to organized crime. The toll is more than double the 77 killed in the community at this point last year.
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 Thursday, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman called the surging crime “a resounding failure of Israeli governments” and said his office would start drafting a new report on the matter.