Brother suspected of firing bullet that injured 7-year-old boy in Rahat

Police believe incident in Bedouin town result of internal family feud, as gun violence continues to run rampant across Israeli Arab society

An ambulance in Rahat takes Muhammad Al-Atiq to the hospital, Aug. 31, 2023. (X screenshot)
An ambulance in Rahat takes Muhammad Al-Atiq to the hospital, Aug. 31, 2023. (X screenshot)

Police said Friday that a seven-year-old boy who was shot and seriously wounded in the Bedouin town of Rahat the day before was apparently hit by a bullet fired by one of his brothers.

A police statement said that investigators, who initially thought the shooting was part of a rivalry between two families, now believe that the shooting was part of an internal dispute within the family.

Muhammad Al-Atiq was in his family’s yard when the bullet accidentally struck him.

Three of his brothers have been detained, police said.

Police did not release any details on who else was suspected to have been involved in the feud and said it would continue to investigate other possibilities.

They also called on the family to cooperate.

The police “view this incident very seriously and expect the family to cooperate,” according to a statement. “We are talking about the illegal possession and use of firearms in a residential area.”

Family members had earlier claimed to have not known who fired the gun or why.

“He was playing next to me in the yard of the house when a bullet fell on him from the sky,” one brother, Shadi, told Channel 13. “He said to me, ‘Shadi, look what happened to my hand’. I saw blood and took him to an ambulance. I watched it happen right before my eyes. I can hardly speak.”

Muhammad’s father, Salem, told the media he was asleep when the incident occurred.

“My daughters came and said that Muhammad was injured. I got up and saw he had a gunshot wound in his abdomen. The bullet entered and exited. I covered his wound and took him to [Magen David Adom ambulance services]. He was fully conscious and said he didn’t know how it happened. He was scared.”

“There is no solution to this problem. You can’t leave the house or sit in the garden, especially at night. Even during weddings it’s impossible; there was one near my house, and sadly, the government does nothing about it,” he said.

The father blamed police for the lawlessness in the Bedouin communities.

“God forbid, if the weapon had hit a Jew, the police would have acted immediately. But when it’s in Rahat, they do nothing. That’s the truth. In a week, one could rid Rahat of weapons. But as long as it doesn’t affect Jews, everything is fine. The situation is not good. The police called me to come in for an investigation, to say if I [have any suspects in mind],” the father added.

Gun violence has become an epidemic in the Arab Israeli community, particularly since the beginning of the year. According to the Abraham Initiatives, a non-profit that tracks statistics on the issue, of the 163 Arabs that have died as a result of violence since the beginning of 2023, 148 were killed by firearms.

In April, 14-year-old Mohammed Abu Huwash was killed in Rahat.

The violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, whom 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 root cause of the problem.

Most Popular
read more: