Police arrested four residents of the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm Wednesday on suspicion of connection to the murder of Arab Israeli journalist Nidal Agbaria in September.
Police said they found a gun in the home of one of the suspects and would ask the Haifa Magistrate’s Court to order that they be held in custody.
The suspects, all in their 20s and 30s, have denied the allegations through their attorneys.
“They firmly deny any connection to the case. They had nothing to do with [Agbaria’s] murder,” said attorneys Yaheli Sperling and Doron Noy.
Police did not provide additional details about the investigation or the evidence they had against the four suspects.
According to the ongoing investigation, Agbaria was killed by local criminals in an attempt to pressure his brother to pay a debt. He was shot dead on September 4 in his car, apparently while making his way home from a mosque in Umm al-Fahm.
Agbaria was an editor at the news site Bldtna, which reports on developments in Umm al-Fahm and covered crime-related stories in the Arab community.
His murder was held up as a wakeup call for Israeli authorities regarding the increasing crime rates in Israel’s Arab sector.
“The police knew for a year that criminal organizations had marked Nidal Agbaria’s home. Nidal was murdered… due to the incompetence of the police. The murder of a journalist is an attempt to silence the voice of the Arab protest against violence and crime,” read a statement issued by the majority-Arab Hadash party at the time.
Last year, more than 50 bullets were fired toward the home that Agbaria shared with his wife and daughter. No injuries were reported in the attack, which was believed at the time to stem from Agbaria’s reporting on violent crime in the Arab community.