Two more suspects arrested in Abu Snan quadruple homicide

Third suspect was nabbed at airport trying to flee country. All four victims of the killing buried; police discover tunnels under Nazareth used by crime family

Mourners attend the funeral of 66-year-old Salman Halabi in Yarka, northern Israel, August 23, 2023. (Flash90)
Mourners attend the funeral of 66-year-old Salman Halabi in Yarka, northern Israel, August 23, 2023. (Flash90)

Police arrested two more suspects late Thursday in the deadly quadruple homicide that took place in the northern town of Abu Snan earlier in the week.

The two were arrested in nearby Dir Al Assad. Earlier in the day, police arrested a third suspect, allegedly connected to a crime organization, at Ben Gurion Airport as he was attempting to flee to either Turkey or Dubai.

A gag order on most details of the case remains in place.

On Wednesday, three of the victims of the shooting – Ghazi Sa’ab, 53, Zohair al-Din Sa’ab, 45, and Amir Sa’ab, 28 – were buried in Abu Snan. A fourth victim in Tuesday’s shooting, Salman Halabi,  was buried in the nearby town of Yarka.

“They had no connection to crime whatsoever,” Anwar Sa’ab told The Times of Israel of his murdered relatives. “We are a normative family of educated people, academics or business owners. The three victims all served in the IDF and were reservists,” he added. “We have never had any connections with the criminal world. My cousins were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

One of the victims, Ghazi Sa’ab, a former high-ranking Border Police officer, had launched his campaign for local elections just a few hours before being murdered.

All four victims of the shooting belonged to the Druze minority. Druze leaders announced a strike in community institutions on Wednesday and blamed the police and government for the lack of security. In a statement, a community leader placed the blame for the surging crime wave entirely on the Israel Police and the government and appealed to the prime minister to take firm measures to end the carnage.

Ghazi Sa’ab, running in the upcoming elections for mayor, was one of four people shot dead in Abu Snan on August 22, 2023. (Facebook; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

It was one of the deadliest single acts of criminal violence this year, coming two months after five people were killed in a mass shooting at a car wash in Yafa an-Naseriyye.

Because of a suspected link between the murders and the local elections, the Shin Bet security service, legally mandated to protect Israel’s democratic order, was commissioned to join the investigations. However, following the arrest at Ben Gurion Airport, the case was determined to be solely related to a feud between crime organizations, and the Shin Bet ceased participating.

The shooting was also the second to target a local Arab politician in as many days. Abdel Rahman Kashua, from Tira in central Israel, was shot dead on Monday night in what some experts claim to be an escalation of violence against Arab politicians in the lead-up to local elections.

According to a report by the Kan public broadcaster, the Shin Bet gave the government a list of 20 candidates from 17 Arab municipalities whose lives are believed to be in danger. No candidates from Abu Snan were on the list.

According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, 156 members of Israel’s Arab community have been killed since the start of the year, mostly in shootings. During the same time frame last year, 68 were killed.

The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, whom 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.

In related news, the police also recently uncovered an underground tunnel system in Nazareth said to be used by the organization of crime boss Samir Bakri.

A tunnel claimed to be used by a crime family in the city of Nazareth was uncovered by police in August 2023. (Israel Police Spokesperson)

The system includes four tunnels, each eight meters deep and totaling dozens of meters in length. Police suspect it was used as a hideaway for members of Bakri’s organization and possibly for smuggling weapons.

Dozens have been killed as a result of the feud between the Bakri and Hariri crime organizations.

 

 

 

 

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