Man shot dead in Nazareth in suspected organized crime hit

Issa Masra Fatuah, 38, critically injured as he sits in his car, dies in hospital; two days earlier, four suspects were arrested as they headed to town for gangland attack

Illustrative: A police car and ambulance in Petah Tikva, August 4, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Illustrative: A police car and ambulance, August 4, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

A man was shot dead in the northern Arab city of Nazareth early Sunday morning in what the Israel Police said was a suspected organized crime killing.

He was identified as Issa Masra Fatuh, 38, a resident of the city.

Fatuah was critically injured by gunfire as he sat in his car, reports said.

He was taken to Nazareth Hospital and later declared dead.

It was the latest in a spate of violent incidents among organized crime groups in Nazareth.

On Friday, police arrested four suspects who were allegedly on their way to carry out a hit in the city.

Police said officers became suspicious of the four, who were traveling in what the force described as a bulletproof car. Officers called on the car to pull over but the driver sped off, prompting a police chase. They fired shots in the air, then shot out the tires of the car, forcing it to stop, and arrested those inside. The suspects were found to be armed with AK-47 rifles.

All four are residents of Umm Al-Fahm and Jaljulia, in their twenties and thirties, and were members of the Hariri crime family, Channel 12 reported Saturday.  They were on their way to Nazareth to attack a rival gang member of the Nasser Hariri crime family,  the report said.

A police officer told the network the suspects intended to carry out a “revenge hit in Nazareth” in response to the slaying of a crime figure the week before.

The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of all four suspects by a week.

At the beginning of last week, police arrested a senior member of the Bakri crime family as he was carrying out a shooting in Nazareth, Channel 12 reported. Security camera footage showed the man firing shots into the air. Though he tried to escape on a motorcycle he crashed and was injured. Residents then attacked the man, beating him until police arrived, the report said.

He is suspected of carrying out shootings to intimidate and blackmail local businesses. The man, who was not named in the report, is expected to be charged in the coming days, Channel 12 reported.

An AK-47 rifle seized from suspects allegedly on their way to carry out an organized crime hit in the city of Nazareth, December 2, 2023. (Israel Police)

Last week Moanas Marwat was shot dead in Nazareth. According to Hebrew media reports, the incident was tied to the ongoing war between the Bakri and Hariri crime families.

Earlier last week, Nazareth resident Mohammad Abu Vassal was shot dead as he sat in a car.

The running feud between the Bakri and Hariri crime families is thought to have claimed dozens of lives, including the mass killing of five people at a car wash in Nazareth in June.

The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years and has risen this year to unprecedented heights.

According to a tally from the anti-violence Abraham Initiatives group, 224 members of the Arab community have been killed by violence since the start of the year. It compares with 105 deaths during the same period in 2022.

Many Arab Israeli community leaders put the blame on 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.

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