Judge said to feel threatened after shooting in which relatives were killed

Judge said to feel threatened after shooting in which relatives were killed

TV report says suspects were spotted scoping out Naser Abu Taha’s home in the southern town of Omer days before deadly attack

The scene of a suspected double murder at the entrance to the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, November 4, 2019. (Magen David Adom)
The scene of a suspected double murder at the entrance to the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, November 4, 2019. (Magen David Adom)

An Israeli judge is reportedly concerned for his safety after two of his relatives were shot dead this week in southern Israel.

According to a Channel 12 news report Thursday, security guards in the town of Omer spotted suspects scoping out the home and car of Beersheba District Court Judge Naser Abu Taha, who lives in the community.

This activity was reported to the court and a probe into the matter led to the arrest of a suspect, who the network said was released after being questioned.

Days later, the judge’s relatives Jalal and Mohammed Abu Taha were shot dead near Omer.

Judge Naser Abu Taha ( Courtesy)

The report said that although there is currently no evidence directly connecting the shooting to the apparent surveillance, the incident raised concerns the judge was the initial target of the killings.

Quoting sources close to the judge, Channel 12 said Nasser Abu Taha felt threatened before and after the shooting, without elaborating.

Abu Taha, the first Bedouin district judge, had his car torched in 2014 in what police suspected was an attempt to intimidate elements of the legal system. He said at the time he would not be deterred by the incident.

Police are treating Monday’s shooting in the south as an underworld hit, according to Hebrew media reports, following a conflict between two local gangs.

After the shooting, hundreds of locals gathered at the scene and clashed with police.

The deaths brought the number of murders within Israel’s Arab community this year to 82.

Arab community leaders this week launched a three-day hunger strike and set up a protest tent near the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, opposing the failure to adequately deal with the wave of criminal violence within the community.

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the top representative umbrella organization for Arab Israelis, announced the steps on Sunday, after two members of the community were killed over the weekend in criminal violence.

Tens of thousands of people have held protests in Arab towns over the past few weeks, demanding police step up enforcement to make their streets safe. The demonstrations kicked off with a general strike among the community.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month announced the formation of a committee to combat violence in the Arab community. The team is tasked with formulating within 90 days a national program to eradicate violence and crime in Arab society.

Members of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and Arab Israeli Knesset members hold a press conference at a protest tent in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on November 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Arab leaders say the Israel Police largely ignores the violence in their communities, including everything from family feuds and mafia turf wars to domestic violence and so-called honor killings.

Police adamantly reject the allegations of indifference and say they are doing everything they can to stem the violence. They say local leaders need to do more to cooperate with police and to prevent violence.

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