Police vow extra forces to tackle spike in murders, crime in Arab community

Recent weeks have also seen surge in violence against women; police claim to have foiled 50 attempted murders over last month

Police at the scene where a man  murdered his wife and then tried to kill himself on June 12, 2022, in Haifa (Shir Torem/Flash90)
Police at the scene where a man murdered his wife and then tried to kill himself on June 12, 2022, in Haifa (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev led a series of meetings among top law enforcement officials Sunday after Israel saw a spate of murders in recent days, most of them in the Arab community.

Officials vowed to push extra resources into the battle against crime after the country saw 12 murders within a week, with seven of them since Thursday night

“The recent murders are a serious blow to our efforts against crime,” said Barlev. “Our fight against the crime in the Arab streets is correct and has proven itself in the last year — but it is also a long, complicated and challenging.”

“We are determined to continue with the fight against the criminals with a strong hand and with all the means at our disposal,” he said.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai also chaired a meeting of police officials and tried to paint a rosier picture of police success, claiming that they had foiled 50 other attempted murders.

Additional murder investigators were allocated to the coastal and northern districts to probe the killings. Extra technological support would also be made available to investigators, police said.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai, left, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, center, and Northern Command police chief Shimon Lavie, right, during a ceremony in Nazareth, November 9, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The moves come after a spate of killings.

A 60-year-old man was shot dead on Saturday in Ramat Gan.  According to the initial police investigation, the victim’s daughter is in the process of getting a divorce from her husband and had recently moved into her parents’ home in the Tel Aviv suburb.

The shooter, identified as the father of the woman’s husband, arrived at the victim’s home on Saturday morning and shot him from close range in the building’s stairwell.

Police at the scene where a 60-year-old man was found shot dead on June 18, 2022, in Ramat Gan. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

On Friday evening, three men in northern Israel were shot dead within hours of each other — a 37-year-old man was fatally shot outside his home in Kafr Qara, a 25-year-old from the town of Nahf was shot dead, and a 42-year-old man was killed in Kiryat Ata.

Earlier in the day, a 24-year-old man was stabbed to death in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.

On Thursday evening, cousins Mohammed and Ali Fakhouri from Nazareth were found shot dead in a car in a suspected double murder.

On Tuesday, a man was shot and killed in the northern town of Baqa al-Gharbiya. Earlier in the day, a man around the age of 30 from the Arab town of Jaljulia was shot and killed near a building site in the central region town of Shoham.

On Monday night, Mahmoud Sna Allah, a 43-year-old man from the town of Deir al-Assad, was shot dead in his car in the northern town of Bi’ina.

On Sunday, a 51-year-old woman died in Haifa shortly after she was found in critical condition alongside her husband. The man was seriously injured in what police suspect was a murder and attempted suicide.

And last Saturday, a 27-year-old man was shot and killed as he sat in his vehicle in the northern town of Jatt.

The majority of the murder victims over the past week were from Arab communities, which have seen a surge in 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. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect.

An Arab citizen protests the violence in the community, in Jaffa, on February 6, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

In addition to the murder of the Haifa resident, there has also been a notable increase in incidents of deadly violence against women since the start of the month.

On Monday, police uncovered the body of Sapir Nahum, a mother of two young children from Acre who had been missing for nearly two weeks. Her ex-boyfriend is the main suspect in her killing.

Last week, a 65-year-old woman was found dead at her Petah Tikva apartment. Her husband was found nonchalantly smoking a cigarette and drinking alcohol and was detained by police.

And in another incident, a 28-year-old Arab anti-violence activist and the daughter of the deputy mayor of the northern town of Shfaram was killed in a car bombing on June 8.

The scene of a car bombing in which Johara Khnifes was killed, June 7, 2022. (Fire and Rescue Services)

According to data released by the Israel Women’s Network, a women’s rights advocacy group, some 20 women on average are murdered every year because of their gender, with over half of them personally knowing their killer.

Over 200,000 women are victims of violence in Israel each year but only a quarter of them report their experience to the authorities, the group said.

According to a report published by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in January, there were 16 cases of women murdered in Israel by a relative or a partner throughout 2021, and 21 cases in 2020.

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