Arab Israeli former city council member shot dead in Qalansawe

Bakr Natour, 43, was a local politician and restaurant owner; 46 Arab Israelis have died in homicides since the beginning of 2021

Police operate in Qalansawe following a deadly shooting which killed Leith Nasra on March 19, 2021. (Screenshot: Ynet)
Police operate in Qalansawe following a deadly shooting which killed Leith Nasra on March 19, 2021. (Screenshot: Ynet)

An Arab Israeli former city council member was shot and killed in his hometown of Qalansawe on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Israel Police.

Bakr Natour, 43, was killed in broad daylight in the central Arab Israeli city, according to local Arabic-language media. At least two of his brothers have also been wounded in shootings over the past few months.

“He was well-known and respected in town. Everyone knew him,” Qalansawe deputy mayor Mtani Azzam told The Times of Israel.

According to Azzam, in addition to his two-year stint on the city council, Natour was a chef who ran a popular restaurant and often cooked for local weddings.

Police are investigating the case. The motive for the murder was not immediately clear and no suspects have been arrested.

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. Powerful, well-armed gangs are said to have entrenched themselves in Arab communities.

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.

مقتل الشيف بكر همام ناطور " ابو عنتر " من قلنسوة باطلاق نار

Posted by ‎بانيت Panet‎ on Wednesday, July 14, 2021

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

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

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pledged to end the bloodletting and pass a multi-year plan to improve personal security for Arab Israelis. His predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, made similar promises even as crime rates continued to rise.

Ayman Odeh, who leads the mostly Arab Joint List party, tweeted that he would demand a “commission of inquiry into the failures of the police in the face of the violence and crime that is shedding the blood of the Arab citizens.”

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