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Islamic Movement leader shot dead in Jaffa, 2nd man moderately wounded

Fatality named as Muhammad Abu Nijm; earlier, 145 people arrested overnight in northern village of Tur’an over suspected involvement in brawls, shootings, arson

Illustrative: A police patrol car in Jerusalem, September 20, 2017. (Times of Israel/Stuart Winer)
Illustrative: A police patrol car in Jerusalem, September 20, 2017. (Times of Israel/Stuart Winer)

A senior official in the Islamic Movement was shot dead and a second man moderately injured on Sunday when a gunman opened fire in the central city of Jaffa.

Mohammad Abu Nijm, a well-known activist in the political movement, was critically injured in the shooting. He and the second man were taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon for treatment, where Abu Nijm later succumbed to his injuries.

There were no details given on the identity of the second man.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, 12 Arabs have been killed since the beginning of 2021 inside Israel. Seven were Arab Israeli citizens, while another five were East Jerusalem Palestinians or Palestinians working inside Israel.

Channel 12 news reported that the shooting on HaSaba Mishpola Street in the coastal city was being investigated by police as an assassination attempt and that a manhunt was underway.

Founded in the 1970s, the Islamic Movement is a political organization, religious outreach group and social service provider. The movement split two decades ago — the more moderate southern branch is now part of the predominantly Arab Joint List, while the more hardline northern branch has been outlawed in Israel.

In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory. Many Arab Israelis blame the crisis on police inaction, saying that police do not enforce the law in their cities and towns.

The absence of the rule of law, Arab lawmakers allege, has enabled illegal weaponry, protection rackets and organized crime organizations to spread freely in Arab communities.

Earlier, police arrested 145 people in a series of overnight raids in the northern village of Tur’an on suspicion of involvement in a series of violent incidents. According to a statement by police, the suspects were held over brawls, arson attacks and shooting incidents.

Around 250 officers carried out the overnight operation, which came in the wake of a feud between two families in the village.

In a meeting with Arab mayors last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to pass a wide-ranging plan to combat violence and crime in Arab communities, likening the struggle against organized crime to the fight against terrorism. They are set to meet again on Sunday evening.

It was not the first time, however, that Netanyahu has vowed to pass an anti-violence plan. In November, the premier made much the same pledge to Joint List MK Mansour Abbas’s parliamentary committee on violence and crime in the Arab sector.

Netanyahu has recently been campaigning for support from Arab Israelis ahead of the March elections, in a stark about-face from his party’s previous unsubstantiated warnings of electoral fraud in Arab communities and repeated attacks on Arab lawmakers.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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