Amid spiraling crime wave, two more shot dead in 4th and 5th killings in a day

Several others injured; man stabbed to death in Holon; head of Arab community umbrella group accuses Ben Gvir and police of deliberate inaction

Police at the scene of a fatal shooting in the southern town of Tel Sheva on May 3, 2023 (police)
Police at the scene of a fatal shooting in the southern town of Tel Sheva on May 3, 2023 (police)

Two people were killed in separate shootings on Wednesday afternoon, the fourth and fifth fatalities in 24 hours from violent crime.

Several other people were injured in three deadly shootings, while another man was stabbed to death.

As the deaths mounted there was no immediate response from National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right lawmaker in charge of police who campaigned with promises to beef up public safety.

A fatality in the southern Bedouin town of Tel Sheva was named by Kan news as Adham Abu Issa, 26. Police said that in the Tel Sheva shooting, another man, 25, was moderately injured. Both men were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where Abu Issa was declared dead.

Kan reported that Abu Issa was the son of former Tel Sheva mayor Musa Abu Issa, whose family is embroiled in a feud with another family over a plot of land intended for commercial use.

Police said they were investigating the incident and searching for suspects, as a deadly crime wave showed no signs of abating.

Shortly afterward, another man was fatally shot in the northern town of Shfaram.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the victim, 23, was brought by car to the entrance to Shfaram, where he was pronounced dead by medics.

Police announced the opening of an investigation and said officers dispatched to the scene were searching for suspects.

According to police, the shooting was linked to a criminal dispute.

Overnight a man was shot dead in Nazareth and another man was fatally stabbed in Holon.

Hours later, a man was shot dead close to the city of Qalansawe in the center of the country.

They were the latest killings in a spate of deadly crime that has seen over twice as many people killed in the first four months of 2023 as in the same period last year.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours Lod, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)

The victim in Nazareth — identified in Hebrew media as Sahar Natafi, a resident of the city in his twenties — was driving with his wife and daughter when shots were fired at the vehicle. The wife and daughter were moderately and lightly injured, respectively.

Police said the shooting was part of a criminal feud.

Later Wednesday a man in his thirties was shot dead close to Qalansawe. He was identified in Hebrew-language media as Mohammad Natur, a resident of the city. Another man, 23, was seriously injured and a third was lightly injured.

Magen David Adom medics who attended the scene said they found one injured man in the car with no vital signs. The other two were given initial treatment and then taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.

All three men were in the vehicle when shots were fired at it from another vehicle. Later, a burning vehicle was found in Qalansawe and police were checking if the vehicle was used in the shooting.

The crime wave has been particularly deadly for the country’s Arab community. Many blame the 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.

According to The Abraham Initiatives, a group that campaigns against violence, there have been 69 members of the Arab community — including four of the five victims in the past day — killed in violent circumstances since the beginning of the year. The watchdog said 58 of them were killed by gunfire.

During the same period last year, there were 27 comparable deaths in total.

Mohammad Barakeh attends a press conference at the protest tent of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on November 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, an umbrella group of leaders of the Arab community, slammed state authorities and National Security Minister Ben Gvir for not tackling crime in the community.

“There is quite simply, a situation of lawlessness,” former MK Mohammad Barakeh told the Kan broadcaster. “No one can convince anyone that the police are not able to fight crime and gather the weapons.”

He said that police are aware of who the criminals are but nonetheless do not act against them.

“The country has abandoned the Arab public,” he said and suggested the lack of action is a deliberate political ploy.

“There are those who think that if the Arabs kill each other it will distract them from the main issues — this is an illusion and explosive stuff. If Arabs kill Arabs, everything will be fine? Where are the state and the authorities?”

He accused Ben Gvir of “inciting against the Arabs” and authorities of having an attitude of “blaming the victim.”

Last month Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai was lambasted for saying behind closed doors that it is in the “nature” of Arabs to “kill each other.”

Separately, in the coastal city of Holon overnight Tuesday, a man in his fifties was stabbed in a public park on Kedoshei Kahir Street in Holon, the second homicide on the same street within a week. He was taken to the city’s Wolfson Hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Last Friday, a 22-year-old man was stabbed to death on the same street in what police said was a clash between street gangs.

Also in Holon, police said Tuesday evening that a suspicious package was left by the door of an apartment on Eliyahu Krauze Street. Police sappers arrived and confirmed that package was an explosive that they then neutralized.

There has been a sharp jump in homicides under Ben Gvir, who came into office in December and ran on a platform of improving citizens’ personal security.

Through the month of April, there have been 78 homicides this year, compared to 34 in 2022, according to a tally by the Haaretz newspaper.

The sharp jump in killings, the highest number in decades, was seen in both the Jewish and Arab communities, although the numbers are far steeper in the latter.

Most of those killed were figures known to police due to their ties to the criminal world, apparently indicating an increase in organized crime in the Arab community, the report assessed. It also noted that recently a number of key organized crime figures have either been released from prison or returned to the country from abroad, further stoking tensions and violence.

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