Man shot dead in northern town of Ar’ara, in third killing within hours

235 people have been killed in incidents of violent crime across Israel’s Arab communities in 2023, up from 108 people in 2022

Illustrative: A police car at the scene of a crime. (Israel Police)
Illustrative: A police car at the scene of a crime. (Israel Police)

A man was found shot dead in the northern Israeli town of Ar’ara on Sunday morning, the third victim of violent crime in a number of hours, the Israel Police said.

According to a police statement, the man’s body was found with gunshot wounds near parked trucks.

The Ynet news site reported that the man was in his 50s, but he was not immediately identified.

In apparently separate incidents overnight, a 29-year-old man was killed in Tel Sheva in the south and another was killed in Tayibe in central Israel.

The consecutive killings come amid a wave of violent crime that has engulfed Israel’s Arab community in recent years, rising to unprecedented heights in 2023.

According to the Abraham Initiatives organization, 235 Arabs have been killed in 2023 in instances of violent crime. Of those, 225 were citizens of Israel. In 2022, 108 victims of violent crime were recorded in the same period.

The Abraham Initiatives noted that 211 of the victims were shot to death, and six of them were shot by police officers. Two of the victims who died this year were injured in 2022 and succumbed to their wounds in 2023. Sixteen were women.

Activists march with symbolic coffins denouncing violent crime in Arab communities on August 6, 2023 in Tel Aviv. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Many Arab Israeli community leaders have placed the blame for the unabating violence on the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations. According to the leaders, the police 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. In September of this year, State Comptroller Matanyahu Engleman decried the government’s response to the surging criminal violence as inadequate.

“The jump in crime in the Arab community represents a resounding failure of Israeli governments,” Englman said at the time. “The prime minister, national security minister, and all ministers must act to eradicate crime in Arab society.”

According to the Abraham Initiatives, May and June of 2023 were the deadliest months in recent years, with 25 fatalities recorded each month.

Following the shock onslaught carried out by Hamas on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed, and the ensuing war between Israel and the Gaza terror group, there was a noticeable drop in homicides. However, they have picked up again in recent weeks.

Between January 1 and October 7, the Abraham Initiatives recorded 198 murders in Israel’s Arab sector, indicating that in the two and a half months since the outbreak of war, there have been 37 murders in Arab communities across Israel.

Gianluca Pacchiani contributed to this report.

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