A young Arab Israeli man was shot and critically wounded in the northern town of Zarzir on Monday. Medics rushed Fadi Grifat to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short while later.
Police suspect that the shooting was a revenge attack between rival gangs, the Ynet news site reported.
Various reports placed Grifat’s age between 19 and 26-years-old. Police said investigators had arrived at the scene and were collecting evidence.
Grifat was shot in his car in his hometown on Monday afternoon and later rushed to HaEmek Hospital in nearby Afula where doctors were forced to pronounce his death.
Grifat became the 72nd Arab Israeli killed in apparent criminal homicides this year alone, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit. Arab cities and towns have seen a surge in violence in recent years, with organized crime seen as the main driver. Another 15 Palestinians were killed inside Israeli territory.
A resident of Zarzir speaking on condition of anonymity told Ynet that violence in the town has continued nonstop. “Only about a month and a half ago a woman from the village was murdered, another young man was murdered today, and we do not know who will be murdered tomorrow.”
The resident said they weren’t sure why Grifat was targeted.
“Everyone here is in danger of death and the criminals are able to murder even those who are innocent,” the resident added.
A relative of the victim told Ynet that they didn’t think Grifat was in danger.
“These days, people are killed over nothing. I hope the police will reach the suspects so that they can receive the appropriate punishment, and not be allowed to roam free like all the other killers,” the relative added.
Last week, two men were shot dead in apparent homicides in the Arab community in northern Israel.
In the city of Acre, 38-year-old Khaled az-Zawi was shot and critically wounded by an unknown gunman, police said. Medics took him to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariyya, where he was pronounced dead a short while later.
The shooting was carried out at a coffee shop in the Old City of Acre, according to Hebrew-language media reports. Az-Zawi was a local resident and a father of three.
Later that same day, in the town of Jisr az-Zarqa, 42-year-old Ahmad Amash was shot by an unknown assailant. Amash was taken to Hadera’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead by medical staff.
Police said that they had opened investigations into both incidents.
The number of Arab Israelis killed in 2021 is on pace to eclipse the total from last year.
2020 saw 96 Arab Israelis killed in violence, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.
Arab Israelis blame the police, which 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 a 2020 Knesset report, some 400,000 illegal weapons are circulating in Israel, the vast majority in Arab communities.
In July, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity,” as he met with senior government and police officials to formulate a national plan to tackle the issue.