Arab Israeli journalist Nidal Ighbariya, 45, from Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, was shot dead by unknown gunmen while on his way home from the mosque Sunday night.
This lethal attack was preceded by another attack in June 2021, when Ighbariya’s house was riddled with bullets as assailants sprayed it with more than 50 rounds, but no one was injured in that assault.
The victim’s father, Mohammad Ighbariya, insisted that his son was not linked to the criminal underworld in any way. He said his son was “a pleasant man, loved and admired by all. He had a good reputation. You will not hear a bad word about him in the whole city.”
Ighbariya says he is still in shock. “I can’t believe what happened. We used to hear and read about murders far from our homes. Now murder has entered my home and taken away my dearest son.”
Ighbariya says his son complained to the police about threats, but a frustrated elder Ighbariya criticized the police handling of the matter and urged them to do more to catch the perpetrators.
“My son complained repeatedly, but no one did anything.”
Journalist and director Omar Abu Siam spoke fondly of Nidal Ighbariya, describing him as a “person who was constantly cheerful, peaceful. He did not know violence, loved good for all, and has never harmed anyone.”
Abu Siam said that at the time news broke, he was at a family wedding. At first, there was talk of an injury, but then messages appeared on his phone about a murder, and he feared the worst. He left the event and quickly went to the scene of the attack.
“Usually when there is something happening in our area, we naturally call on Ighbariya. When I got to the crime scene, his phone was still in his car, still ringing. People were trying to contact him.
“Honestly, this is an indescribable feeling. All journalists are accustomed to being together in the field to cover the news, but it is difficult to cover the news of a murder or a crime against a colleague of ours,” said Abu Siam.
Ighbariya was the father of an 11-year-old daughter, who was the focal point of his life. He arranged his schedule so he could be with her as much as possible.
Journalist Hassan Shaalan spoke with great emotion about his close friend and colleague, calling Ighbariya’s killing a “big loss.” He noted that the reporter had been the target of many threats in the past year.
“The feeling is very difficult,” Shaalan added. “I did not expect to hear the news of Ighbariya’s death. Nidal was not only a friend but a brother of mine. We used to talk to each other every day. After hearing about the news of the shooting in Umm al-Fahm, I immediately called him to inquire. But he didn’t answer this time.”
“He was a righteous man, with high morals, the owner of a free pen and a bold stance, and he never feared to report the truth,” Shaalan added. “He was a great friend, the kind brother and colleague one would only wish for. They assassinated him in cold blood.”
Shaalan, a reporter for Ynet, says he has been the target of the crime groups that he reports on, and he has moved several times from his home and city with his family.
“On a personal level,” he added, “I have been subjected to death threats, in addition to detonating my house with an explosive device and firing more than 70 bullets at it. They almost killed me and my family members, and I won’t be surprised if I may be the victim the next time. Just as Nidal was killed, they will kill me.”
Shaalan stressed that “We will continue on the path that our colleague Ighbariya started, and we will not be deterred by threats from criminals.”
Murders continue to plague Arab Israeli communities, without practical prospects for changing this dangerous reality. Many in these communities point a finger at the police, accusing them of inaction and complicity with criminal gangs, saying the police fail to investigate murder cases when the victims are from the Arab community.
“If the incident were against an Israeli Jew, the perpetrators would have been arrested within hours, if not minutes. This means one thing: that the police are a partner in this matter because they are unable or fail to solve the murder cases in our communities,” says Abu Siam.
The police rejected these accusations, calling them “unfair” and “unfounded,” saying they launched an investigation into the death of Ighbariya and that they treat all cases equally.
“Police investigations will not lead to anything,” Shaalan countered. “This is public relations police. With everything that happened with Nidal and all the investigations, they did not reach anything. We did not see any suspect arrested. On the contrary, with everything that happens like this, the criminal gangs are getting stronger, because they know that nothing will happen to them.”
Shaalan insists the lack of progress in defeating violence in Arab communities gives “a green light to these people and a chance to continue with their crimes. “To this moment I am threatened. No one has been arrested after the attack on me. I stopped talking until the threat passed, but it did not. I have prepared my family that one day I would be killed.”
Shaalan insists that, no matter how big the threat, he will not stop doing his work, and he urges his fellow journalists not to stop their coverage. “If I raise my hand and surrender, there will be many more dead. If we fear these criminals and stop reporting, we roll the red carpet out for them and invite them to continue their crime spree.”
The story is written by Mohammad Al-Kassim and reprinted with permission from The Media Line