Father, 2-year-old son shot dead in apparent criminal underworld hit in Nazareth

Firas Heib killed on the spot while in car; toddler Fares rushed to the hospital with serious wounds, doctors unable to save him; 2 arrested

Undated photos of Firas Heib and his son Fares, who were shot dead in an apparent underworld killing in Nazareth, December 20, 2022. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Undated photos of Firas Heib and his son Fares, who were shot dead in an apparent underworld killing in Nazareth, December 20, 2022. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A man and his two-year-old son were shot and killed Tuesday as they sat together in a car in the northern city of Nazareth, in what police believe was a criminal underworld hit.

The incident was tied to recent violence among organized crime families in Arab society, including a deadly shooting last week, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The father, named by Israeli media as Firas Heib, 33, was declared dead shortly after being taken to the hospital. His son, Fares, was brought to the hospital in serious condition and was pronounced dead several hours later.

According to police, a suspect or suspects opened fire on their car.

Police believe that the shooting was linked to underworld activity. A hunt for suspects included forces on the ground and a helicopter.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the shooting.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid offered his condolences to the Heib family and vowed authorities would “do everything to bring the murderers to justice.”

“We must continue the campaign against violent crime in Israel,” he tweeted.

Outgoing Public Security Minister Omer Barlev called the death of the toddler “horrific” and those responsible “brutal criminals who will stop at nothing to harm their opponents.”

He vowed that authorities’ campaign against crime in Arab society would continue, but added it “is very complex and there are no shortcuts.”

“More than once, as unfortunately happened to a toddler today, an innocent person through no fault of his own got into the line of fire and paid for it with his life as a result of the struggles between families and criminal gangs,” Barlev said.

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai visited the scene in Nazareth and said police believe the shooting by “criminal elements” was due to “a number of conflicts and as a result of pressure on certain families, indications of which are seen on the ground.”

Channel 12 news cited an officer in the police’s Northern Division as saying there is now concern that the double murder will cause “revenge and the assassination of those” responsible.

In an unsourced report, Kan said the killing was due to an internal dispute of the Hariri crime family and was tied to the shooting last week of another underworld figure, also in Nazareth.

On that occasion, a 33-year-old man was shot dead, also as he sat in a car. A second man who was with him was wounded in the shooting and was hospitalized in moderate condition, police said at the time.

Dashcam video footage circulating on social media appeared to show the gunman firing nine shots into the vehicle.

The murder in Nazareth brings the number of members of the Arab community killed in violent incidents to 110 since the start of 2022, according to the Abraham Initiatives watchdog, which tracks the violence. Of the victims, 93 were shot dead and 64 were below the age of 30.

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years.

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.

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