Head of Arab crime organization shot dead in north

Khaled Abu Juda was driving near Baqa al-Gharbiyye when he was cut off by car with three masked men who opened fire, preliminary probe finds; he is year’s 10th Arab victim of crime

Police arrive at the scene scene where Khaled Abu Juda was murdered, near Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Febraury 2, 2024. (Israel Police)
Police arrive at the scene scene where Khaled Abu Juda was murdered, near Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Febraury 2, 2024. (Israel Police)

The head of a criminal organization in the north was shot dead near the entrance to Baqa al-Gharbiyye on Friday.

The victim was later named as Khaled Abu Juda, a resident of Baqa al-Gharbiyye who was in his 50s.

Abu Juda was driving on Route 6 when a car cut him off, and three masked men inside opened fire, a preliminary investigation found.

Medics from the Magen David Adom emergency service were dispatched to the scene but Abu Juda was already unconscious by the time they arrived, and they were forced to pronounce his death shortly thereafter.

Police subsequently reached the area and launched an investigation.

Abu Juda was well known to police and survived an assassination attempt in 2022, which police believe was carried out by members of a rival gang.

Abu Juda was the 10th member of the Arab community to be killed in violent crime this year, according to the Abraham Initiatives coexistence organization that tracks crime statistics.

Two hundred and forty-four members of the community were killed in Israel in violent circumstances last year, over twice as many as in 2022.

Many Arab Israeli community leaders put the blame on 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.

The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities. More than half of Arab Israelis live below the poverty line, and their cities and towns often have crumbling infrastructure and poor public services. The minister in charge of police, Itamar Ben Gvir, has a long history of incendiary comments and stances against Israeli Arabs, and the community’s leaders have argued that his policies have only intensified the epidemic of violence over the last year.

For their part, 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.

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