Municipal leaders in the Arab community called for a general strike on Tuesday and for the establishment of an emergency committee to fight a relentless crime wave that has killed over 160 members of the community so far this year.
In an announcement on Sunday, the National Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities and the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee blamed the Israeli government for the spate of killings in the Arab community and accused it of neglecting Arab-Israeli citizens, as cited by Hebrew-language media.
The planned strike will include local authorities, businesses, and the education system, which will operate for only part of the morning. Pupils will join those striking in protest convoys, Walla reported.
The strike announcement came after the funeral on Sunday of a high-profile imam who was shot and killed in Kafr Qara on Saturday, two days after a double homicide in the Arab town.
Sheikh Sami Abed al-Latif, 60, was shot as he was exiting a mosque in the northern Arab city. Al-Latif was reportedly known for his role in helping resolve conflicts within the town.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral on Sunday and took part in a prayer-protest on Route 65 which leads to the city. During the demonstration, coordinated with police, mourners held prayers on the road to protest the violent crime wave and what is seen as government inaction. Protesters then dispersed voluntarily, and the road was reopened to traffic.
“We don’t recall murders in the village at all, for decades,” one resident, who lives near the mosque, told Walla. “It was safe here. It was safe in other Arab villages. What has changed is the government,” said the resident.
According to the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence advocacy group, 166 Arabs have been killed in homicides this year, an all-time high and more than double the figure at the same time in 2022.
Most of the victims were killed in shootings.
On Thursday, two people were shot and killed in Kafr Qara, 33-year-old Fuad Nasrallah and 13-year-old Muhammad Sa’id.
The killings in Kafr Qara follow several other recent shootings that claimed multiple lives, including a quadruple homicide last month in Abu Snan, and came after two people were shot dead in separate incidents Thursday.
Most of the killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. 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.
Many community leaders blame the police, whom 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.