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Two more suspects nabbed in fatal playground shooting of Arab 4-year-old

Three others remain in custody and will appear in court for remand hearing, along with new detainees hailing from Bedouin villages in northern Israel

Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat (Courtesy)
Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat (Courtesy)

Police on Wednesday arrested two more suspects in the killing of four-year-old Ammar Hujayrat, who was shot dead at a playground in the northern town of Bir al-Maksur last week.

The suspects are 24 and 25 years old from the northern Bedouin towns of Ibtin and Basmat Tab’un. The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court imposed a gag order on the names of the suspects. The pair are scheduled to be brought before a judge on Thursday for a remand hearing.

Four other suspects were arrested last week in the fatal shooting and three of them remain in custody and will face a remand hearing on Thursday as well.

Hujayrat is believed to have been killed by stray gunfire during a shootout between criminals. He was shot while at the playground with his aunt.

Police said it was believed Hujayrat was hit by stray gunfire from a construction site some 300 meters (984 feet) away.

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime. Hujayrat’s killing marked the first fatality from Arab community violence in 2022, after a particularly bloody 2021. A second Arab man was shot dead later in the day, in the town of Lod.

The playground where 4-year-old Ammar Muhammad Hujayrat was shot dead by stray gunfire in Bir al-Maksur, northern Israel, on January 6, 2022. (Flash90)

Arab Israelis blame 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 Abraham Initiatives, which monitors and campaigns against violence in the Arab community, said there were 125 Arabs killed in Israel in 2021 as a result of violence and crime, of whom 62 were below the age of 30.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev have vowed to crack down on the violence as well as illegal weapons.

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