Residents of the town of Kafr Yasif protest gun violence in the Arab community
Residents of the town of Kafr Yasif protest gun violence in the Arab community
Photo: Ynet
Police attend the scene of a shooting between two men in the northern town of Bi'ina

Ongoing violence leaves Israel's Arab sector reeling and angry

With at least 46 killings since start of year, community leaders bemoan state's 'lackluster' efforts to curb criminal activity within their towns and cities; 'They can target the weapon caches in Syria, but not here,' says one local official

Hassan Shaalan |
Published: 07.10.20 , 19:08
Since the beginning of 2020, at least 46 Arab Israelis have been murdered - and 12 of them in May alone. But so far, only five murders have been solved by the police.
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  • In comparison, 33 Israeli Arabs were murdered in the first half of 2019, with 94 murders throughout within the community in the entire year.
    זירת היריזירת הירי
    Police attend the scene of a shooting between two men in the northern town of Bi'ina
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    Out of those 94 murders, only 39 were solved by the police – around 41%.
    "The police and government have completely lost control of the situation within the Arab community. Everybody failed at stopping crime," said a relative of recent murder victim Ihab Bidosi, a resident of the northern town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
    "They don't even care anymore and even shot cops. How are the police supposed to protect the citizens while itself is being shot at?" the relative said.
    Residents of the town of Kafr Yasif protest gun violence in the Arab community   Residents of the town of Kafr Yasif protest gun violence in the Arab community
    Residents of the town of Kafr Yasif protest gun violence in the Arab community
    (Photo: Ynet)
    Two other people were wounded in the shooting that killed Bidosi, one seriously and one mildly. According to Bidosi's family and relatives of the wounded, they were shot while leaving work.
    The police are still investigating the incident and have made no arrests.
    Jalal Abu Hussein, a businessman from Baqa al-Gharbiyye and a prominent figure within the Arab community, criticized the Arab leadership.
    "Where are all the municipal chiefs and community leaders? Why aren’t they protesting? We need to tell the murder he's a murder and not sit in silence," he says.
    ג'לאל אבו חוסין תושב באקה אל-גרבייהג'לאל אבו חוסין תושב באקה אל-גרבייה
    Jalal Abu Hussein
    "Violence and crime have become the norm in many communities," Hussein says, citing a recent hudna (community-led ceasefire) in neighboring village of Jatt after two young men were murdered.
    "I came back home at 2am and woke up a few hours later when I heard about the murder here in Baqa."
    Baqa al-Gharbiyye Mayor Raeed Deka, on the other hand, stresses the importance of the state taking responsibly for finding a solution.
    "We as citizens, municipal leaders and MKs, are calling out in rage and demand a solution for this violence. This matter must not be underestimated," he says.
    According to Deka, the state has worked with the Arab community on many issues, including construction, but has failed to offer full assistance because of the violence.
    ראיד דקה ראש עיריית באקה אל-גרבייהראיד דקה ראש עיריית באקה אל-גרבייה
    Baqa al-Gharbiyye Mayor Raeed Deka
    "They legislated laws that allow houses built without permits to be demolished, but when it comes to crime, there are no laws and people keep killing each other," he says.
    Sheikh Camel Rie'an from the Aman Center, the Arab Center for a Safe Society, has a similar message: "A nation that has turned its Arab civilians into a death toll is a nation that has broken its obligation to its citizens."
    He says: "I want to hear the state's answer to this 'massacre' of Arab citizens. Does it want to stop crime and is unable to or is it able to but won't?"
    Deka says the state is also responsible for the rampant arms problem in the Arab community.
    Sheikh Camel Rie'an Sheikh Camel Rie'an
    Sheikh Camel Rie'an
    (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
    "I can blame the state not only for accidental negligence, but systemic negligence too," he says.
    "The state is able to destroy weapon caches in Syria, Iraq and Gaza, but can't find the weapons in Jaffa, Lod, Kafr Qasim or Kafr Yasif."
    According to data from the Aman Center, there have been 15,000 acts of violence in the Arab community, most of them involving shooting.
    Last year, the center reported 30,000 incidents, while the police recorded only 8,200.
    "I estimate the amount of ammunition fired by criminals in the Arab villages is the same as the amount the IDF fires in exercises all year," says Rei'an.
    "I wonder from where all those guns come from. Where do you get all the ammunition? The weapons are bringing a second 'Nakba' upon Arab society and as a result send all of Israeli society into anarchy and endanger us all."

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