Police on Saturday said they arrested three residents of Rahat for alleged illegal possession of firearms, two of whom are the sons of the mayor of the southern Bedouin city.
According to police, officers searched a home in Rahat’s 25th neighborhood and found two pistols, magazines and ammunition.
The statement said the suspects were in their 30s and that the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court had remanded them until Sunday.
Multiple Hebrew media reports said two of the detainees were the sons of Mayor Ata Abu Madighem, who confirmed the detail to reporters.
Abu Madighem claimed that the weapons had been planted in his family’s backyard by a rival and that the guns were not connected to his sons, expressing hope that the police investigation would prove they had been framed.
The mayor said that on Friday, his entire family left a wedding in the city after one of his sons received “an explicit threat from another family.” He said around 10 members of the other family followed and physically attacked his two sons, and that police had launched a probe.
“Many people came to my home in solidarity, and I feel like an undercover agent arrived among them and brought weapons to the compound in which I reside with my brothers and parents, which includes 10 apartments,” said Abu Madighem, according to the Walla news site. “It was claimed that police had received a tip and they came for a search and found discarded pistols next to my brother’s home, in the backyard.”
Prominent local businessman Rushdi Al-Bahiri was shot dead in Rahat on Friday. Popular among the city’s youth and involved in solving local conflicts, the 52-year-old had owned restaurants and cafes in Israel and Turkey, as well as a human resources company.
Police have reportedly been preparing for the possibility of an escalation and revenge attacks in Rahat.
Arab communities have seen a rising wave of violence in recent years. Many blame 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.