Feuding Rahat families said to reconcile after shootings turn town into ‘Wild West’

Al-Uberah and al-Bahiri families reportedly reach a ‘sulha’ to end violence on Bedouin city’s streets

The Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, on April 8, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The Bedouin city of Rahat in southern Israel, on April 8, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Two large feuding families in the southern town of Rahat have reached a detente, Hebrew media reported Wednesday, days after hostilities between them led to multiple shootings in the city that wounded several people, including a teen girl.

The al-Uberah and al-Bahiri families had agreed on a sulha, a term meaning reconciliation, the reports in Kan and Ynet said, and had signed it at the home of a local sheikh.

The predominantly Bedouin town of Rahat and the surrounding area have for years had a noted lack of police presence and regularly see lawlessness and unrest.

Last month shootings targeted multiple homes and businesses. The mayor of Rahat, Faiz Abu Sahiban, said that the situation in the town was like the “Wild West” and called on the government to deploy forces to restore order.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said the rampant violence that plagued the southern town was “intolerable” and vowed to send in a large police force.

Barlev said police “are obligated to act to stamp out crime in the city. The residents of Rahat have a right to live in security.”

Screen grab of a video apparently showing gunmen opening fire toward a store in Rahat, April 24, 2022 (Screen grab/Kan)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai said police viewed the shootings at restaurants and cultural institutions in Rahat as a form of terrorism.

“Anyone who carries illegal weapons and endangers innocent civilians — [what happens] is on their own heads,” he said. “We will invest large forces and resources to bring the criminals to justice.”

Several suspects were arrested and weapons confiscated.

A 14-year-old girl, Remas Abu Ali, was moderately wounded April 24 when she was shot in the abdomen at home during a firefight between the families. She was taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, where she underwent surgery.

Arab communities in Israel have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.

Arab Israelis blame 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.

The Arab community has also generally suffered from decades of neglect in terms of government funding and attention.

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