Two men were gunned down in separate shootings Thursday, the latest victims in an unrelenting crime wave that has claimed nearly 200 lives in the Arab community this year.
The killings, which occurred hours apart near Beit Kama Junction in Israel’s south and in the city of Fureidis near Israel’s north, did not appear to be linked. They came a day after a grisly shooting that killed five members of the same family and a brazen daylight slaying caught on video sparked vows by authorities to redouble efforts to stanch the bloodshed.
Paramedics said they found Eid Abu Hassan Al Ziyaddin, 70, semiconscious and suffering severe wounds in an open field near the Beit Kama Junction, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
He was declared dead shortly after being brought to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Preliminary findings by police linked the incident to an internal clan dispute. According to reports, Al Ziyaddin had been slated to participate in a “sulha” reconciliation meeting on Friday.
The second victim, 20, died after being brought from Fureidis to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera with gunshot wounds, according to MDA.
The killings raised the number of Arabs slain in violent circumstances in Israel since the start of the year to 190, compared to 80 during the same period in 2022, The Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group said.
The killings came as activists dyed Tel Aviv’s iconic Dizengoff Square fountain red in a protest against government inaction in the face of the crime wave, which has been blamed on criminal groups that have taken hold in Arab communities weakened by decades of neglect by Israeli authorities.
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“It is impossible to remain silent when the blood of the victims from crime in Arab society keeps on being spilled,” the Standing Together group which organized the protest said.
Shortly after the killings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to pass a series of laws expanding resources for law enforcement, which will likely include the use of controversial hacking tools.
Earlier Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara gave police permission to use the Pegasus phone spyware tool as they investigate the shooting of five members of an Arab family in a suspected gangland slaying a day earlier.
The shooting in the Bedouin town of Basmat Tab’un in Israel’s north was thought linked to a slaying earlier in the day in which a man was gunned down in broad daylight after apparently being mistaken for a relative involved in a criminal feud.
Police arrested nine suspects in the nearby town of Umm al-Fahm over the Haifa killing, and the Haifa Magistrate’s Court extended their remands by eight days.
Baharav-Miara’s okay came as the government was set to form a committee to examine law enforcement’s use of spyware technology in the wake of a scandal that broke out in 2022 over police usage of sophisticated cellphone hacking technology to obtain access to citizens’ devices.
Police chief Kobi Shabtai visited the scene of the mass shooting in Basmat Tab’un, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir joining him Wednesday.
In a video statement from the scene, Shabtai called the shooting one of the “most abhorrent events we have ever encountered — a targeted elimination of an entire family that was apparently in response to a killing in Haifa this morning.”
The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, who 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.
Authorities have blamed burgeoning organized crime and the proliferation of weaponry, while some have pointed to a failure by communities to cooperate with law enforcement to root out criminals.
Ben Gvir, who is responsible for the police force, has also faced criticism that he is not doing enough to curb the violence.