Two men were shot to death Thursday while driving down a highway in Central Israel, bringing the total number of Arab citizens murdered since the beginning of the year to eighty.
The two victims are Yousef Takruri, 47, and Khaled Alkoubi, 37, both residents of Qalansawe. They were shot on Highway 57 next to the Nitzanei Oz Junction north of Qalansawe, Israeli Police say.
The men were driving when they were fired at multiple times from a vehicle or scooter that passed them. The shooters fled the scene, and police said they believe the incident to be crime-related. The two victims were known to police and had previously been jailed for arms dealing.
In the past week alone, five people have been murdered in the Arab community. The police believe all cases to be crime-related.
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Last weekend, three murders took place in the space of one day: in Tel Sheva, Lod and Kfar Qassem. In this period in 2020, a year in which violence in the Arab community reached record heights, 55 Arab citizens were murdered.
A senior police official told Haaretz that Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who was at the murder scene Saturday night, has ordered district commanders to increase activity in the area and halt the wave of murders, especially among crime families.
"I believe that September will look different," Shabtai said.
Police on Saturday carried out an extensive raid in Arab villages in Central Israel, during which they collected illegal weapons and arrested dozens of suspects, a police statement said.