After 24th Arab Israeli Falls Victim to Gun Violence, His Town Set to Protest Police Neglect

Baka al-Garbiyeh resident Ahmad Mazen Dra'ima, 35, died of gunshot wounds Sunday overnight ■ Residents and officials charge that 'the police needs to function, not just as lip service'

The crime scene in Baka al-Garbiyeh, May 20, 2019.

A 35-year-old Arab Israeli man, identified as Ahmad Mazen Dra'ima, succumbed to his wounds Sunday overnight after he was fatally wounded in a shooting. 

Drai'ma, who hails from the northern, Arab-majority city of Baka al-Garbiyeh, was evacuated to Hallel Yafe hospital in Hadrea, where he was pronounced dead. 

His death marks the 24th killing of a member of the Arab community in Israel this year, exacerbating tensions between Arabs in the country and the police, who the community says is negelcting gun violence. 

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Police have opened an investigation into Dra'ima's death, suspecting murder.

Baka al-Garbiyeh's municipality and official institutions announced that they will be striking Tuesday in protest over the incident. Banks and post offices and other official establishments will be closed until 2 P.M. 

Schools will remain open, but will hold educational activities against violence. The municipality noted that after Dra'ima's funeral, there will be a meeting "to further discuss addressing matters of the spread of violence in the Arab community."

Baka al-Garbiyeh mayor Mursi Abu Mokh called on police "to come out in the uncompromising struggle against illegal weapons and drug dealing."   

"The Israel Police are the ones responsible for what's happening in the Arab community, and it needs to function, not just as lip service, but in action, on the ground, so that the common citizen will feel that personal security has returned to us," Abu Mokh said. "The crime problem among Arabs in Israel is the most bothersome issue among the Arab minority in Israel."

 A similar strike took place Sunday in Tamra, in a demonstration against the murder of Wissam Joudat Yassin, 46, who was shot to death on the city’s mains street after midnight on Saturday. Locals protested against gun violence, which they say has become a near-daily occurrence.

Yassin, a businessman, was shot at close range next to his jewelry shop at a time when the street was thronged with people and cars. Many businesses were open despite the late hour, as is customary during the holy month of Ramadan. No one has been arrested in the shooting. At 4:30 P.M. Monday, Tamra residents will protest against the police response to violence in the Arab sector outside the Shfaram police station.  

According to statistics published this month by the trauma unit of Rambam Hospital in Haifa, in the first four months of 2019, 32 people were brought to the hospital with gunshot wounds; 14 were hospitalized in 2018 alone. Out of the 32 gun violence victims treated at Rambam, 29 were Arab, and 18 out of the 32 were Tamra residents. Dozens of additional gun violence victims were evacuated to other hospitals in the area.