Man shot dead in Nazareth is 12th victim of single criminal feud in under a year

Killing comes shortly after police spokesman says Ben Gvir’s appointment created deterrence against violence among Arab community

Illustrative: Israel Police investigate the scene of a crime on June 2, 2021. (Israel Police)
Illustrative: Israel Police investigate the scene of a crime on June 2, 2021. (Israel Police)

A 32-year-old man was shot dead in the northern city of Nazareth on Thursday, apparently the 12th victim within a year in a conflict between two criminal organizations, and the sixth in less than a month.

Ashraf Mashal was shot in a parking lot near the entrance to the city. He was pronounced dead in the hospital. Police said they opened an investigation and were hunting for suspects.

Channel 13 news said that a burnt-out vehicle that police suspected was connected to the shooting was found nearby. In addition, an airborne police unit was said to have located another suspected vehicle close to Umm al-Fahm.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the 12 deaths were the result of a long-running feud between the Hariri and Bakri rival criminal groups.

New National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has vowed to increase personal safety in Israel, but the far-right lawmaker has made no public comment on any of the killings within the Arab community since taking office last month.

The shooting came shortly after police spokesman Eli Levy told the Kan public broadcaster that “Ben Gvir’s arrival has resulted in a large level of deterrence, especially in the Arab community.”

In the past month alone, six people have been killed as part of the same conflict that resulted in Ashraf’s death, the Ynet news site reported.

A man and his two-year-old son were shot and killed in their car late last month, and a few days later a man was killed in Haifa in an apparent revenge attack.

A week later, a man was as killed in Kafr Qara, and last week another man was killed in I’billin.

According to the Abraham Initiatives watchdog, which monitors and campaigns against violence in the Arab community, Mashal was the third member of the Arab community killed in the 12 days since the start of the year. Last year 116 Arab Israelis were killed in violent incidents, 101 of them by gunfire.

Arab communities in Israel have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.

Arab Israelis say police have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and for years largely ignored the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and attacks on women.

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