Man shot dead in second homicide within hours in Arab Israeli town of I’billin

Police say shooting apparently linked to feuding gangs; watchdog reports 30 killed in Arab Israeli community since start of year

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 shot dead in I’billin on Sunday evening, the second homicide in the northern Arab community within hours.

The Israel Police said in a statement that a man in his 40s was shot in the street, apparently due to a feud between criminal entities.

The Ynet outlet identified him as Abd el Wahad Awabda, 41.

Awabda was seriously injured by the gunfire. Medics who arrived to tend to his wounds eventually declared him at the scene.

Police opened an investigation.

Awabda had just exited a local grocery store where he made some purchases and was about to get into his car when the assailant approached him from behind and opened fire at close range, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

According to the network, the shooting brought to three the number of victims over the past six months in an ongoing clash between two rival gangs.

The death brought to 30 the number of Arab community members killed in violent crime since the beginning of the year, according to the anti-violence watchdog group the Abraham Initiatives. Of those, 24 were shot. Over the same period last year, the number of homicides in the community was 27.

The shooting came after earlier in the day a man stabbed his wife and then turned himself in to police, also in I’billin.

Amal Arabi was stabbed while she was driving in the community, causing her to crash the car into a pole, according to her husband, who turned himself in and confessed to the murder.

The 58-year-old suspect, identified as Nasser Arabi, escaped the scene before giving himself up to officers shortly after. He was immediately arrested.

A wave of violent crime has swept the Arab Israeli community, much of tied to warring organized crime groups. An Abraham Initiatives tally showed that the total number of deaths last year, 244, was over twice that of 2022.

Last week, a man was shot dead and three others suffered moderate to serious injuries in the northern Arab city of Umm Al-Fahm.

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. More than half of Arab Israelis live below the poverty line, and their cities and towns often have crumbling infrastructure and poor public services. The minister in charge of police, Itamar Ben Gvir, has a long history of incendiary comments and stances against Arab Israelis, and the community’s leaders have argued that his policies have only intensified the epidemic of violence over the last year.

For their part, authorities have blamed burgeoning organized crime and the proliferation of weaponry, while some have pointed to a failure by communities to cooperate with law enforcement to root out criminals.

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