Man killed in northern Arab town in suspected gangland hit

Police say deadly shooting likely part of running dispute between crime families that has claimed several other lives

Illustrative: Police at the scene of a shooting incident. February 28, 2017. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Police at the scene of a shooting incident. February 28, 2017. (Flash90)

A man was shot dead early Tuesday in northern Israel, the latest apparent victim in a bloody feud between local crime families.

He was targeted while driving in the Arab town of Sha’ab and pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Police announced an investigation into the shooting and dispatched officers and a helicopter to search for suspects.

A statement from the force said the shooting was likely linked to a running conflict between criminal groups.

The victim was later identified by the Ynet news site as Mohammad Abbas, 52, from Nahf. His son Raafat Otman Abbas, 24, was killed in Nahf in December 2021.

The dispute between criminal elements has claimed several other lives, most recently two men shot dead in June while sitting in a car in Nahf.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence watchdog, Abbas was the 145th member of Israel’s community to have been killed in a homicide since the start of 2023, more than all of last year.

The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the crime wave on the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence. They also point to decades of neglect and discrimination by government offices as the root cause of the problem.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, whose ministry oversees the police, has taken little action on the soaring crimewave, despite campaign promises.

Members of the previous unity coalition — which included an Arab party for the first time in Israeli history — argue that measures they took to address root causes of the endemic led to a rare, albeit marginal, drop in killings.

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