Man shot dead leaving funeral; 2nd man, the ‘intended target,’ badly hurt

Deadly attack in Jaljulia, central Israel, linked to gang violence in Arab community; scuffles outside hospital where victims taken

A Magen David Adom ambulance at the scene of a deadly shooting at a cemetery in the central town of Jaljulia, November 16, 2021. (Magen David Adom)
A Magen David Adom ambulance at the scene of a deadly shooting at a cemetery in the central town of Jaljulia, November 16, 2021. (Magen David Adom)

A man was fatally shot and a second man seriously wounded on Tuesday at a cemetery in the central town of Jaljulia. The injured man was apparently the intended target of the attack while the slain man was not.

The two men were leaving a funeral when the gunman opened fire.

Magen David Adom paramedics brought the two wounded men to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where one of them was later pronounced dead.

Police said the man who was killed was 52, and the other man is 32. They said that they had opened an investigation into the shooting. The man killed was later identified as Mahmoud Odeh, a father of two children with special needs. The 32-year-old man, said to be the target of the attack, was named as Nadim Shteiwi. According to reports, Shteiwi fled from the shooters toward the cemetery, where he encountered Odeh as he was leaving a funeral.

Joint List MK Osama Saadi, who was at the funeral, said it was an “ambush,” but that the man who was shot dead was not the intended target.

“The man who was killed wasn’t connected and was accidentally shot,” Saadi told the Kan public broadcaster. “We came out of the funeral and shots were heard. Two men who were next to us by chance fell.”

The broadcaster said Shteiwi seemed to have been the target in an assassination attempt linked to gang violence.

Fighting broke out at the medical center when family members of one of the victims attempted to break through a gate at the facility, Channel 12 reported. Dozens of people clashed with the hospital’s security team, until police reinforcements arrived on the scene and restored order, the report said.

It was the second brawl outside an Israeli hospital this week.

Since the beginning of 2021, 109 Arabs have been killed in suspected homicides, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit. Of them, 91 were citizens of Israel, and another 18 were Palestinians, either from East Jerusalem or with Israeli residency.

The nonprofit said that 91 of the killings were committed with a firearm.

With just a few weeks left in the year, 2021 is on track to be the bloodiest year for the Arab sector since a crime wave in the community began several years ago.

Despite the violence in the Arab community showing no signs of abating, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that the situation, long ignored, was now being dealt with.

“We are dealing properly with problems that we have become used to — [the idea] that nothing could be done about them, that they are chronic — problems that are usually pushed away,” Bennett said at a meeting of a panel on violence in the Arab community.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem on November 15, 2021, to discuss violent crime in the Arab sector. (Haim Zach/GPO)

“We are making a critical effort throughout the country against weapons and munitions,” the premier added, apparently referring to the seizure of arms and the arrest of dozens of gunrunners last week in what the police have touted as the largest weapons bust in Israel’s history.

His comments came in the wake of the massive brawl between a pair of families outside of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on Sunday evening.

Also on Sunday, one man was killed and a second wounded in a shooting at a building site in Jerusalem’s Germany Colony neighborhood, in what police reportedly believe was a premeditated hit. Channel 12 news said that all those involved were Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

According to Channel 12, police saw that incident as an escalation of the violence within the Arab community, with the shooting taking place in broad daylight in an upscale Jewish community in the west of the city.

A police officer at the scene of a shooting in Jerusalem, November 14, 2021. (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly by organized crime.

Leaders and community members blame 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.

Both government officials and civil society experts say the violence in the Arab community is the fruit of decades of state neglect.

Over half of Arab Israelis live under the poverty line. Their towns and cities often have crumbling infrastructure, poor public services and few job prospects, leading some young people to get involved with organized crime.

In August, Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity.”

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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