Man shot dead in Nazareth as Arab community crime killings continue

Victim in his 30s identified as Ayman Zoabi from the village Sulam, as this year’s death toll for the minority population climbs to 91

Illustrative: Firemen and police officers at the scene where a car exploded in Rishon Lezion on July 3, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative: Firemen and police officers at the scene where a car exploded in Rishon Lezion on July 3, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A man in his 30s was shot to death on Wednesday night in the northern city of Nazareth, as authorities continued to struggle with a relentless wave of violent crime in Israeli Arab communities.

Hebrew media reports identified the victim as Ayman Zoabi, from the Arab-majority town of Sulam, near Afula.

After the shooting, he was brought to the EMMS Nazareth Hospital in critical condition but was declared dead at the facility.

The killing was one of several violent crime incidents reported around Israel on Wednesday.

According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence monitor, at least 91 Arabs have been killed in violent circumstances since the start of the year, a major leap from the 34 slayings at this point in 2022.

Police, politicians and community leaders have struggled over the past several years to rein in criminal activity driving the spiking violence, which has appeared to ramp up in recent months.

Many community leadeers blame the police, who 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. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.

The head of a police unit tasked with fighting crime among Israeli Arabs, Deputy Commissioner Natan Bozna, resigned on Tuesday. No reason for the departure was given by Bozna or the force, and police did not announce a replacement.

The announcement came a day after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said he would appoint a policy coordinator to help address the rampant bloodshed.

Also on Monday, MKs from the majority-Arab Hadash-Ta’al party met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the problem and demand urgent action to combat the crime wave.

The sides agreed with Netanyahu to form a committee for fighting violence in the Arab community that the prime minister himself will head, Netanyahu’s office said.

Analysts say the killings have been driven by underworld violence fueled by powerful gangs engaged in extortion, loan sharking, protection rackets and other criminal activities.

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