Arab-Israeli Man Killed on Way Home From Protest Against Violence

Residents of Umm al-Fahm say Mohammed Agbaria is the fourth member of his family to die violently in the past 18 months

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A protest against violence in Umm al-Fahm in December of 2019.
A protest against violence in Israel's Arab community, Umm al-Fahm, December 2019.Credit: Amir Levy

A 21-year-old man from the northern Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm was shot to death on Friday after returning from a prayer service protesting crime in Arab society and the way the state has handled it. The assailant is still at large.

Residents say Mohammed Agbaria is the fourth member of his family to die violently in the past 18 months.

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About 100 people took to the streets of Umm al-Fahm in protest after the shooting. Police said the protesters marched from the main square at the entrance to the city and held prayers on the main highway, road 65, blocking the road for a short time. The police said that protesters threw stones and bottles at officers who used forceful means to disperse them when the prayer ended. Four protesters were arrested.

The Umm al-Fahm municipality declared a three-day mourning period and a general strike on Sunday. Mayor Samir Mahameed announced that he would resign in a month if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not introduce a plan for fighting crime in Arab society. Mahameed said that he would send his resignation letter on Sunday dated one month from now.

The heard of the Council of Arab Mayors, Mudar Younis, said that the forum would meet Sunday to discuss the possibility of more mayors joining Mahameed’s ultimatum.

“The prime minister promised to present an effective plan to fight crime and meanwhile it’s all talk,” Younis said. “If a plan with a budget isn’t presented for approval in one month there’s no point in remaining in office. The prime minister, the public security minister (Amir Ohana) and the interior minister (Arye Dery) can come to the communities and make order.”

Lawmaker Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), who lives in Umm al-Fahm, criticized the police, asking “Why do they disappear when we need them to collect weapons and smash the crime organizations, but then appear en masse to disperse demonstrations?”

The struggle against what he called the failure of the police would intensify, Jabareen said.

The protest against violence began in Umm al-Fahm about two weeks ago, after the city’s former deputy mayor, Suleiman Agbaria, was shot and seriously wounded by unknown assailants on the second week of protests after Friday prayers.

Last year there were 95 murders in Israeli Arab communities, the highest number in 20 years.

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