Man shot dead near Haifa, marking 6th killing in Arab community in under 2 days

Victim identified as Alaa Meri, 25, an aide to the head of the Fureidis local council; killing brings death toll from crime wave to over 120; police launch investigation

The scene of a fatal shooting in the Arab-majority town of Fureidis, near Haifa, July 13, 2023. (Israel police)
The scene of a fatal shooting in the Arab-majority town of Fureidis, near Haifa, July 13, 2023. (Israel police)

A 25-year-old man was fatally shot on Thursday night in the Arab-majority town of Fureidis, south of Haifa, amid an unrelenting wave of killings in Israel’s Arab communities that has claimed the lives of over 120 people over the past seven months, more than the entire year of 2022.

The victim was identified in Hebrew-language media as Alaa Meri, an aide to the head of the Fureidis local council.

Meri was shot near an event hall in the town and was taken to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera with critical injuries. He died in hospital.

Police said they have launched an investigation into the killing on Thursday night, which marked the sixth homicide in the Arab community in under 48 hours.

Earlier Thursday, a man was shot dead in the central district city of Tira. Samar Nasser, 25, was pronounced dead at the scene by medics, Israel Police said.

Nasser’s death added to four other apparently unconnected killings since early Wednesday morning.

According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence monitor, the killings brought to 123 the number of Arab community members who have died in violent crime since the start of the year. The total for 2022 was 116.

Earlier in the day MK Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party, panned the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it was not doing anything to end the violence.

“Four murders today, 120 since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Many hundreds of injured, thousands of ruined families, and an entire community that has been abandoned to organized crime.”

“Not a single decision or significant step has been made since the establishment of the government,” Abbas said.

“Thank you government of Israel, well done Netanyahu. The successful appointment of the minister of national security restored order and brought governance and self-confidence to the criminal organizations,” he said.

Also Thursday, MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the mostly Arab-member Joint List party told Ynet that the government is ignoring “this bitter reality and entrusts our security in the hands of a minister who is not trustworthy.”

Joint Arab List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“He doesn’t know how to do his job, and he has bad intentions,” Touma-Sliman said of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party.

Ben Gvir, who campaigned on promises to beef up public safety, has largely stayed quiet on the soaring crimewave despite his ministry overseeing the police.

Opposition National Unity leader MK Benny Gantz also criticized government policy on Thursday, saying in a statement it was “harming the ability to deal with the scourge of violence and lack of governance.

“Instead of fighting crime and saving human lives – this government is fighting protesters and the justice system,” Gantz said referring to protests against the coalition’s controversial efforts to overhaul the judiciary, mass protests against the plan, and police handling of the demonstrations.

He said his party will, in the coming weeks, introduce bills to fight crime.

“A national calamity is not overcome with words, but with actions,” Gantz said.

Many community leaders blame the crime wave on the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence. They also point to decades of neglect and discrimination by government offices as the primary cause of the problem.

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