Umm al-Fahm buffeted by gunfire, arson after deadly shooting

Massive gunfire reported in Arab town’s Aghbariya neighborhood and multiple buildings set aflame in apparent revenge for killing of Mohammed Hamzeh Burghel

Building on fire during rioting in Umm al-Fahm, December 2, 2021 (Screen grab/Walla)
Building on fire during rioting in Umm al-Fahm, December 2, 2021 (Screen grab/Walla)

Chaos ensued in the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm Thursday night, after the murder of a 33-year-old man there earlier in the day.

Large volleys of gunfire were reported in the town’s Aghbariya neighborhood, and multiple buildings were set aflame in apparent revenge for the killing.

Police were scrambled to the scene in large numbers along with firefighting teams.

The violence erupted after resident Mohammed Hamzeh Burghel was killed in a shooting attack on a vehicle early Thursday morning, the latest killing in an unprecedented crime wave that has wracked the Arab community.

A second man was seriously injured in the attack.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics treated Burghel and then took him to the hospital in serious but stable condition. He was later declared dead at the Emek Medical Center in Afula.

The driver apparently lost control of the vehicle as a result of the shooting and crashed into an oncoming truck, though no one in the truck was injured.

Police said that rioters Thursday night have surrounded the house of a family believed to be connected to the shooting, before forces dispersed the crowd.

According to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit, the shooting was the 117th homicide in the Arab community this year, by far an all-time record. Of those killed, 98 were Arab citizens of Israel and 19 were Palestinians.

The incident came hours after shots were fired toward a bus heading from the Arab town of Tira to Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

On Monday a man was fatally shot in the northern city of Nazareth. He was identified as Ehab Saadi, 40.

Arab communities have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not only, by organized crime.

Arab Israelis say police 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 community has also suffered from decades of neglect.

In August, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that violence and crime in Arab Israeli communities was a “national calamity.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed