Principal of Bedouin school hurt in shooting; parents say police ignored threats

Menacing messages reportedly sent to Khatam Abu Qeider about management of new high school and over jealousy of his success; educator moderately wounded in attack

Khatam Abu Qeider, principal at the Neve Midbar School, speaks with Channel 2 news in 2017 (Screen grab)
Khatam Abu Qeider, principal at the Neve Midbar School, speaks with Channel 2 news in 2017 (Screen grab)

The award-winning principal of an elementary school serving the Bedouin community in the south of the country was shot and moderately wounded Friday evening.

Another person was injured in the incident close to Highway 25 and the Abu Qeidar village, south of Beersheba.

Parents at the school told Channel 12 news that Khatam Abu Qeider is an outstanding principal at the Neve Midbar School, and that he has received threats in the past, which he reported to the police.

“The police knew about the threats and he filed innumerable complaints, and the police did nothing,” unnamed parents told the outlet, saying that the shooting was the result of conflict between the principal and a group in the village over the former’s success and the management of a new high school.

“Jealousy drives them out of their minds. All the hatred is from him being a successful principal,” the parents said. “His mind is working 24/7 only for the benefit of the population. A principal who dreams of something at 6 a.m. and turns it into a reality at 7 a.m.”

Recent years have seen an increase in killings and gun crime in the Arab Israeli community. Arab leaders say police largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars, and violence against women.

A man was shot dead in the early hours of Thursday in the fourth killing in just two days among the Arab Israeli community.

The deceased man, 24, a resident of the northern town of Jatt near Haifa, was declared dead at Hillel Yaffa Medical Center in Hadera.

A second man, in his 20s, was lightly injured when the Molotov cocktail he was holding caught fire as the pair were shot at in the vehicle.

Police said they were investigating whether the two had moments earlier fired shots and thrown another Molotov cocktail at a nearby home in the town. They arrested the wounded man as a suspect in that attack.

The deceased man was identified by Hebrew media as Malek Abu al-Ful. According to Hebrew media reports, he is a relative of another Jatt resident, Mohammad Watad, 22,who was stabbed to death early Wednesday in the nearby town of Baqa al-Gharbiya.

Just before midnight Tuesday, a man was fatally shot in Kafr Yasif, another northern Arab town. He was taken to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya where doctors declared him dead.

The scene in Jaffa where a man was shot dead and a 12-year-old critically injured, June 16, 2020 (Screen grab/Ynet)

Hours earlier, a man was killed and a 12-year-old boy was critically injured in a shooting on Harav Rubinstein Street in the central city of Jaffa.

Since the beginning of the year, 43 people have been killed in the Arab community.

A number of demonstrations and large rallies have been held to protest what Arab Israelis say is a failure to adequately deal with the wave of criminal violence within the community.

Only 30 percent of the alleged murders in the Arab Israeli community in 2019 — 27 out of 88 — have been solved, the Haaretz daily reported.

Thirty-six percent of Arab Israelis have a sense of personal insecurity in the community where they live due to violence, compared to 12.8% among Jewish Israelis, according to a 2019 report by the Abraham Fund.

Baladna, a nonprofit organization, reported that young Arab Israelis are the most likely to be killed within the community — more than half of those murdered are 18 to 34 years old.

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