Two young men shot to death in northern Arab town

Police investigating possible gangland connection; Lod storeowner in his early 20s dies from bullet wounds, bringing toll in Arab community violence this year to 96

Illustrative: A police car at a crime scene in Ofakim, southern Israel, June 10, 2023. (Israel Police)
Illustrative: A police car at a crime scene in Ofakim, southern Israel, June 10, 2023. (Israel Police)

Two young men were shot and killed overnight Friday in the northern town of Jadeidi-Makr, police said, in an attack reportedly linked to a crime family dispute.

Police said it was investigating the murders of cousins Amir and Ashraf Bassal, both in their twenties. The Haaretz daily reported that law enforcement suspects that the Bassal cousins were targeted as part of a gangland dispute.

Hours after the shooting another young man died of gunshot wounds.

Ibrahim Elhan, a Lod storeowner in his early twenties, was pronounced dead Saturday at the Shamir Medical Center, where he was taken on Friday after being severely wounded when an assailant stormed his business and fired at him.

Since the beginning of the year, 96 Arabs have been killed in Israel in violent criminal incidents, according to the Abraham Initiatives coexistence advocacy group. The number is slightly lower than the 102 Arabs killed by this point in 2023.

The Abraham Initiatives’ last annual report found that more Arabs had been killed in violent circumstances in 2023 than any year on record, with more than twice as many victims as the previous year. The report attributed the sharp rise to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s decision to gut his predecessor’s program to beef up law enforcement in the Arab community.

According to the group, much of the violence had to do with power struggles surrounding the municipal elections, which were originally set to take place in October, and were delayed till February when the Gaza war broke out.

The report found that homicides in the Arab community saw a brief lull in the early months of the war, but have since resurged.

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