Young Arab woman shot dead outside Haifa home, latest victim in wave of homicides

Police said to suspect 24-year-old Hanan Abu Hait killed as part of feud between local crime families, 73 members of Arab community killed this year amid rocketing homicides

Undated photo of Hanan Abu Hait, who was shot dead in Haifa, May 7, 2023. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Undated photo of Hanan Abu Hait, who was shot dead in Haifa, May 7, 2023. (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A young Arab Israeli woman was gunned down Sunday night while sitting in her car in Haifa, the latest fatality in a rash of killings throughout the country and the 73rd Arab victim of deadly violence since the start of the year.

She was identified in media as Hanan Abu Hait, the mother of a five-year-old boy.

The 24-year-old was shot while parked just outside her home. Medics who arrived at the location declared her dead at the scene.

The Ynet news site, citing police sources, said police suspected the murder was carried out by a number of masked individuals as part of a feud between two local crime families that has already claimed the lives of 19 people.

“It was scary. I was still awake at home, and then I started hearing gunshots,” an unnamed neighbor told Ynet. “It wasn’t one or two shots, but a bunch of shots. Seven, eight or maybe even ten shots. It was loud. At the end of the shooting it went quiet, and then I heard shouts.”

An initial investigation found that three masked gunmen approached the car Abu Hait was sitting in and fired a volley of shots at her, the report said. The rest of her family left the home in the early morning and went to stay with relatives in Nazareth.

Police at the scene where Hanan Abu Hait was shot and killed while sitting in her car in Haifa, May 8, 2023. (Flash90)

Police were said to be looking possible ties to an ongoing feud between the Bakri and Hariri crime families.

A deadly shooting on Saturday night is also suspected of being related to the fight, and nine days ago a member of the Hariri family was shot dead on Route 6.

Last December Abu Hait’s cousin was killed in a Haifa restaurant. That shooting came two days after a father and his toddler son were shot dead, apparently also part of the same feud.

Police are concerned the shooting will lead to more killings in a circle of revenge.

“The goal is to eliminate, and it doesn’t matter who, in revenge for the previous murder,” a police source told Channel 12. “All in the name of ‘revenge.’ The senior criminals hide or are surrounded by bodyguards for fear that they will be eliminated and those who pay the price are innocent people or those who have no direct contact with crime families.”

The violence comes against a background of power struggles by Arab organized crime families, working together with their Jewish counterparts, for control over Haifa and its surrounding areas, a police source told the network.

“That causes hits from both sides,” the source said.

Recent days have seen a dramatic spike in killings throughout the country, with some 15 suspected murders since the start of April. Over 90 suspected murders have taken place since the beginning of the year — more than double the rate of last year — with the vast majority of victims being Arab.

According to The Abraham Initiatives, a group that campaigns against violence, there have been 73 Arabs killed in violent circumstances since the beginning of the year. The watchdog said 65 of them were killed by gunfire.

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

Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party, on Saturday night criticized Ben Gvir for not tackling crime in the Arab community.

“We should have sat down with [the government] and examined what they intend to do in the area of ​​crime and violence in Arab society. We now have a 250% increase in murder cases,” Abbas said in a Channel 13 interview,

“If the national security minister is not functioning, then Likud should please put a deputy minister in that ministry, a special czar in charge of crime and violence, because we are paying with the lives of civilians,” Abbas said.

Saturday saw two killings, with a 19-year-old Arab man shot dead by a non-Arab on a road near the northern town of Gan Ner during a brawl, and an Arab man in his 30s shot dead in the northern city of Acre.

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