ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Two men shot dead in Arab town Nahf amid feud between criminals

Fatalities, 71 and 61, arrive at local clinic in critical condition after being shot while sitting in a car

The Arab town of Nahf in northern Israel, between the Lower and Upper Galilee, on January 11, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
The Arab town of Nahf in northern Israel, between the Lower and Upper Galilee, on January 11, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

Two men were shot dead Sunday in the northern Arab town of Nahf amid a feud between criminal elements, the Israel Police said in a statement.

It was the latest in a wave of lethal crime plaguing the Arab community since the beginning of the year.

The men were aged 71 and 61, according to Hebrew media reports. They were shot while sitting in car.

The pair managed to take themselves to a local clinic where staff began attending to their injuries. Magen David Adom paramedics arrived and took both of them to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya but one of the men died on the way. The second was declared dead a short while later.

The Abraham Initiatives anti-violence group said in a statement that 106 Arabs have been killed since beginning of the year in violence and crime-related incidents. Of those, 91 were shot dead. Ninety-nine were Israeli citizens.

During the same period last year there were 44 deaths, the group said.

Police, politicians and community leaders have struggled over the past several years to rein in criminal activity driving the spiking violence, which has appeared to ramp up in recent months.

Many community leaders 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 by state authorities.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right lawmaker who campaigned on promises to beef up public safety, has largely stayed quiet on the soaring crimewave.

Critics say that in fact he is making policy decisions that actively endanger lives, such as scrapping an anti-crime drive in several Arab towns.

Analysts say the killings have been driven by underworld violence fueled by powerful gangs engaged in extortion, loan sharking, protection rackets and other criminal activities.

On Saturday, hundreds of people, among them Arab members of Knesset, protested against what they called police apathy in dealing with the soaring crime rates, the Ynet news site reported.

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