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Man killed after reportedly trying to break up brawl in northern village

Fatality said to be 48-year-old father of five; police say one suspect in his 20s detained and that they expect to make further arrests

Illustrative -- Police tape hangs in Jerusalem. (Garrett Mills/Flash90)
Illustrative -- Police tape hangs in Jerusalem. (Garrett Mills/Flash90)

A 48-year-old man died of injuries sustained as he reportedly tried to break up a brawl on Saturday evening in the northern village of Zarzir.

The man was named by the Ynet news site as Ziad Grifat, a father of five.

Police said in a statement that one man in his 20s had been arrested for his involvement in the fight, and that it was expected that others would be detained for their roles.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, which is being treated as a murder inquiry.

The death came a day after a man was shot to death and two men were injured when an assailant or assailants opened fire on their vehicle on Friday evening in the central city of Kafr Qasim, police said in a statement.

There were no reports of any arrests in connection with the shooting. The Ynet news site named the fatality as Diaa Farij. The two other men were said to be lightly and moderately wounded, and were taken to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva for treatment.

According to tallies by Hebrew-language media, over 100 people have  been killed as a result of violence within Israel’s Arab society this year.

Last month a governmental initiative to combat violence in Arab society was presented at a Knesset committee meeting. The Knesset Committee on Violence in Arab Society was formed after mass protests by Arab Israelis in fall 2019 against the spread of organized crime in their towns and cities.

Members of the Arab Israeli community protest against violence, organized crime and recent killings among their communities, outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on October 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed at a committee meeting four weeks ago that the long-awaited proposal to fight organized crime and violence in Arab Israeli communities would be brought for approval by the government within two weeks. However, that has yet to happen.

The wide-ranging plan was drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office in consultation with a raft of Arab civil society figures. Among dozens of recommendations, it would work to strengthen police activity in Arab communities, integrate young Arab men in the workforce, implement various methods to ensure that state funds stay out of the hands of organized crime, and increase the penalties for illegal arms possession.

Arab Israelis constitute 20 percent of the country’s population  but accounted for 67% of the country’s homicides in 2019, according to the Haaretz daily.

According to a 2019 study by the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit, which works to advance shared society initiatives in Israel, 60.5% of Arab Israelis reported a sense of personal insecurity in their hometowns due to violence, compared with only 35% of Arab Israelis in 2018. By comparison, only 12.8% of Jews reported such a feeling.

Arab Israeli policymakers have long blamed the violence on what they say is an unwillingness by the Israel Police to root out organized crime in their communities.

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