Two men shot to death in northern towns amid unrelenting crime wave

Slayings of 25-year-old in Arraba, 45-year-old in Yarka mark 113th and 114th killings in Arab community this year; in separate shooting in Bi’ina, 6-year-old girl among the injured

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

Two men were shot to death in separate incidents in Israel’s north late Tuesday and early Wednesday, as an unrelenting violent crime wave in Arab communities continued apace.

Ameen Asla, 24, was shot to death on Tuesday in the northern town of Arraba, late Tuesday. Hours later, a man was shot to death in the Druze town of Yarka, also in Israel’s north.

First responders from Magen David Adom attempted to resuscitate Asla at the scene. He was declared dead while on the way to a hospital.

Police opened an investigation and were attempting to locate the shooter.

The incident is believed to have been related to a criminal dispute.

There were few details immediately available about the Yarka victim.

The slayings marked the 113th and 114th violent killing in the Arab community so far this year, according to the Abraham Initiatives organization, which keeps a running tally of the murders. The figure for all of 2022 was 115.

In a separate incident, three people were injured by gunfire in the town of Bi’ina, also in the Galilee region of the north.

One of the injured was a 6-year-old girl. All three were moderately wounded and were being treated at a local hospital.

The Arab community in Israel has seen near-constant violence in recent months, surpassing years of heightened criminal bloodshed.

According to the Abraham Initiatives — an organization specializing in Jewish-Arab relations — some 75 percent of murders in the Arab community emanate from organized crime, while the rest are attributable to blood feuds, femicides involving family members, and other criminal activity.

At this time last year, there had been 50 slayings in the community. In 2021, the deadliest year on record for the community, 126 people in the community were killed in violent circumstances, according to the Abraham Initiatives. The police cite slightly lower numbers.

Elsewhere Sunday, a man was shot dead in the northern town of Nazareth.

Last week, a father and son were killed in Shfaram, the same day that three other people were killed in shooting incidents in Shfaram, Kafr Kanna and Rahat.

Authorities have not stopped the bloodletting despite promising more resources, including more police and funds to deal with societal issues underpinning the crime wave.

Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence.

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