Thousands attend funeral of two brothers killed in brawl in northern Arab town

Hundreds protest outside Majd al-Krum police station ahead of strike in Arab sector Thursday; Joint List chief calls for war on crime groups, increased education to fight violence

Thousands attend funeral of Ahmed Manaa, 36, and his brother Halil Manaa, 23, in Majd al-Krum, October 2, 2019 (Screen grab via Twitter)
Thousands attend funeral of Ahmed Manaa, 36, and his brother Halil Manaa, 23, in Majd al-Krum, October 2, 2019 (Screen grab via Twitter)

Thousands attended the funeral Wednesday evening of two brothers killed in a brawl a day earlier in the northern Arab town of Majd al-Krum. At the conclusion of the funeral, hundreds demonstrated outside the town’s police station, demanding action over the ongoing violence in the Arab community in Israel.

Ahmed Manaa, 36, was rushed to a Nahariya hospital on Tuesday in critical condition with a gunshot wound but succumbed to his injuries. His brother Halil Manaa, 23, was taken to the hospital in serious condition from a gunshot wound and was operated on but later died as well.

Another victim was seriously injured in the brawl from a stab wound. A fourth man, also a brother of the two men killed, suffered light wounds.

Haaretz reported that the three brothers had apparently fought with the fourth man over an unspecified grievance. Police were investigating.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List alliance of four Arab-majority parties, tweeted about the “heartbreaking” funeral and called for action against the ongoing violence.

“Blood is flowing through the streets even though everyone already knows the solution to the crime epidemic. Carry out the collection of weapons, wage war on crime organizations and enact educational programs,” Odeh wrote. “Crime is not a decree. Security can be restored to the streets and we live in a society without weapons — it’s just a matter of making a decision.”

The Joint List has said it will boycott Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony for the new Knesset to protest what it calls the government’s failure to address rising levels of violence in Arab towns.

Left to right: Members of the Joint List party MKs Osama Saadi, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mansour Abbas arrive for a consultation with President Reuven Rivlin on who he should task with trying to form a new government, in Jerusalem on September 22, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

“Tomorrow, the 13 members of Knesset of the Joint List won’t take part in the festive Knesset swearing-in plenum, as part of the general strike announced by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee over the wave of murders in Arab towns and the uselessness of the police,” Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi wrote on Twitter.

As part of Thursday’s general strike, local government institutions and schools in Arab towns and cities will be closed, according to the Haaretz daily. The strike was announced during a meeting Wednesday of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee in the northern town of Majd al-Krum, where on Tuesday two brothers were killed in a brawl that involved shooting and knifing.

Recent weeks have seen a surge in murders among the country’s Arab minority, prompting its political representatives to promise to make the problem a primary issue.

Over 60 Arab Israelis have been murdered since the start of 2019.

Shortly after the Joint List announcement, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he would hold an emergency meeting with police leaders.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during a ceremony for the outgoing Jerusalem police chief at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on February 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

“The level of violence and crime in Arab communities requires a determined fight with every tool at the state’s disposal,” Erdan, whose ministry oversees police, said in a statement.

“A state of emergency needs to be declared,” he added.

Channel 13 news reported Wednesday that police presence will be beefed up in Arab towns with a higher than average level of violence, including the cities of Nazareth, Acre and Umm al-Fahm.

Recent days have seen repeated demonstrations in Umm al-Fahm against ongoing violence in the town and in the greater Arab community in Israel.

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