5 Arab Israelis shot dead at car wash as community demands increased security

AFP , Thursday 8 Jun 2023

Five Arab Israelis were shot dead at a car wash in the north on Thursday, police said, amid the worst crime wave in years to hit the minority sector.

Arab-Israeli politician and former parliament (Knesset) member Mohammed Barakeh (3rd-L) speaks at a
Arab-Israeli politician and former parliament (Knesset) member Mohammed Barakeh (3rd-L) speaks at a vigil protesting against violence in the Arab-Israeli community, set up outside the Prime Minister s office in Jerusalem on May 31, 2023. AFP


The shooting brought the number of Arabs killed this year to 96.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet would now help the police to tackle rampant criminal activity in the community.

Police said the shootings took place at Yafia, an Arab town just west of Nazareth, and a statement said forces were searching the area for suspects.

Speaking from the scene of the killings, police spokesman Eli Levy told public broadcaster Kan that "one person or more" opened fire at a group of men at a car wash.

Levy avoided giving more information as the investigation was ongoing.

Experts say Arab gangs have amassed large quantities of illegal weapons over the past two decades and are involved in drugs, arms and human trafficking, prostitution, extortion and money laundering.

Arab-Israelis, descendants of Palestinians who were not expelled by Zionist gangs in 1948, comprise around 20 percent of the country's population.

They have long complained of discrimination and police inaction against violence and crime plaguing their communities.

On May 30, elected officials and representatives of the Arab minority protested in Jerusalem and called on the government to increase security.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu announced a decision to form a steering committee following a meeting with Arab lawmakers to discuss "solutions to the wave of murders in the Arab society".

On Thursday, he said he was "determined to stop this chain of murders" and would see that happen by not only reinforcing police but also "with the help of the Shin Bet".

The internal security agency does not normally investigate criminal activity.

Earlier on Thursday, a 30-year-old man and a three-year-old girl were wounded in a separate shooting in Kafr Kanna, an Arab town north of Nazareth.

Roni Halon, a reporter with Nazareth-based Radio Nas, said the Yafia shooting took place as a police helicopter was above the town searching for those behind the Kafr Kanna attack.

Speaking to AFP from the scene, Halon said two masked men had arrived on motorcycles and used automatic rifles to kill the men in the car wash.

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