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Man found shot dead in Negev, 3rd Arab victim of gun violence in two days

Communal killings have claimed the lives of 89 since the start of the year; police arrest suspect in Monday’s shooting at a wedding, a friend of the groom’s

Police at the scene of a murder in the Negev, on September 21, 2021. (Israel Police)
Police at the scene of a murder in the Negev, on September 21, 2021. (Israel Police)

A man in his thirties was found shot dead on Tuesday in a car in southern Israel’s Negev desert, the third apparent victim of Arab communal violence in two days and the 89th since the start of the year.

The man’s body was found in a vehicle near Ramat Hovav, south of Beersheba. The car’s front had been smashed and it had been riddled with bullets.

Police are investigating and there were no immediate suspects.

The killing came a day after two other Arab men were slain in separate incidents, with the community plagued by a non-stop stream of murders.

On Monday, a man killed and five others wounded in a shooting that occurred at a wedding in the Arab town of Taibe, in the country’s center.

On Tuesday, police arrested a 22-year-old resident of the city suspected in the killing of Alaa Sarsour.

The father of the groom told Haaretz that the suspect was a friend of his son’s who had been a guest at the wedding and had eaten alongside other guests before pulling out a weapon and opening fire.

The murder came only hours after another young man was shot and killed in the northern Arab town of Zarzir. Police suspect that the shooting was a revenge attack between rival gangs, the Ynet news site reported.

Last week, two Arab men were shot dead in apparent homicides in northern Israel.

Tuesday also saw a police volunteer killed and an officer wounded at a construction site in Nahariya, when they were run over by a car after coming to check workers’ permits. The suspect arrested has been reported to be a contractor and a well-known figure in Arab soccer.

The number of Arab Israelis killed in 2021 is on pace to eclipse the total from last year. In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed in violent attacks, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.

Arab Israelis blame the police, which 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.

According to a 2020 Knesset report, some 400,000 illegal weapons are circulating in Israel, the vast majority in Arab communities.

In July, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity,” as he met with senior government and police officials to formulate a national plan to tackle the issue.

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