‘The writing was on the wall,’ laments father of slain Arab crime reporter

Muhammad Agbaria says son Nidal had reported threats to police, criticizes progress in catching culprits; another Arab journalist fears he might be next

Police at the scene of where Arab Israeli journalist Nadal Ighbaria was shot dead in his car in the northern  city of Umm al-Fahm, September 4, 2022. (Flash90)
Police at the scene of where Arab Israeli journalist Nadal Ighbaria was shot dead in his car in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, September 4, 2022. (Flash90)

The father of an Arab Israeli crime reporter who was shot dead said Monday that his son had been under threat for a while and had taken the matter to police.

Journalist Nidal Agbaria was found critically wounded in his car in the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on Sunday and died shortly afterward in the hospital.

His father Muhammad Agbaria told Channel 12 that “the writing was on the wall.”

“My son complained. Why is it that we still haven’t heard of any arrests?” he said, expressing frustration at the progress of police’s investigation into the killing.

He called on police to act, “and also those who oversee the police need to act as soon as possible.”

Muhammad described Nidal as “a pleasant man, loved by all, you will not hear a bad word about him in the whole city,” who was not tied to the criminal underworld in any way.

He complained that for years there has been no sense of security in Umm al-Fahm, a place he said had once been safe but “now, it’s dangerous to walk about anywhere.”

Arab Israeli journalist Nadal Ighbaria.(Courtesy)

Another resident of Umm al-Fahm complained to Channel 12 that investigations into deaths like Agbaria’s move too slowly.

The resident, who was not named in the report, said: “In other places, if there was a shooting like this or murder, we would already have heard about arrests within hours, or at most a few days. Here, the usual procedure is that it isn’t solved and there are no arrests.”

Another Arab crime reporter, Hassan Shalan, a longtime personal acquaintance Agbaria, spoke to Hebrew media outlets Monday, warning that he could be targeted next.

He told Kan news that a family member of Agbaria had owed money and had left town due to the danger he faced. Death threats were then made against Ighbaria himself.

“Because the criminals couldn’t get the person who owes them money, they threatened Ighbaria,” Shalan said. Though Agbaria brought the matter to police, “it didn’t help at all.”

But Shalan also added that his friend was murdered “because he is a journalist” and expressed fear that “I will be the next in line.”

Shalan said he too receives threats from criminal elements warning him to stop snooping and reporting.

Agbaria was an editor at the news site Bldtna, which reports on developments in Umm al-Fahm.

Last year, more than 50 bullets were fired at Agbaria’s home. No injuries were reported in the attack, which was believed to stem from Ighbaria’s reporting on violent crimes in the Arab community.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List party tweeted: “If police had caught the person who shot a year ago perhaps the murder could have been prevented.

“The police must stop neglecting the security of Arab citizens and bring the abominable murderers to justice!” she wrote.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List party speaks at the party’s Hebrew-language campaign launch in Tel Aviv, August 20, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Israel Police received a report on Sunday evening of a 44-year-old man found shot in his car in the northern Israeli city. He was brought to Emek Medical Center in Afula in life-threatening condition and pronounced dead there.

Nadal’s mother, Sariel Agbaria, told Radio 103FM in May that a few minutes before her son was killed she had spoken to his wife.

“I heard a bang, a shot. I quickly called Nidal and he didn’t [answer],” she said.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, a group campaigning against violence in the Arab community, at least 75 Arab Israelis have been killed so far this year in violent crimes.

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