'Emergency' Over Gun Violence in Israeli Arab Community After Shooting at Family Event

Leading lawmaker says 'government and police must act immediately' after masked men opened fire in northern city, injuring a 12-year-old girl and a woman in her 60s

File photo: A Magen David Adom ambulance, March 19, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

Five people were wounded on Saturday as masked men fired at a house where a family event was being held in the northern Arab town of Jisr al-Zarqa, amid a wave of nationwide protest by Israeli Arabs calling for authorities to quell gun violence.

Three women, aged about 60, 30 and 20, were in moderate condition, along with a 12-year-old girl and 40-year-old man who were lightly injured. Police have arrested a suspect in the shooting.

The chairman of the local residents council, Sami al-Ali, told Haaretz that masked men opened fire on a family event that was held after a local wedding. The family home, he said, is located on the town's main street, and the gunmen targeted the yard, where people were celebrating. The five victims were outside at the time of the shooting, the police said.

The injured received first aid at the scene from a local Magen David Adom rescue service medic who arrived at the home after hearing the gunshots, and all were evacuated to Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center in Hadera. Police are investigating the incident and arrested a Jisr al-Zarqa resident overnight on suspicion of carrying out the shooting.

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said on Twitter after the shooting that “every minute that no government decision is made on a systematic plan to eradicate crime and violence endangers the lives of innocent men, women and children. We are in an emergency and the public demands enforcement – the government and police must act immediately on behalf of Arab citizens and against criminal groups!”

On Friday night, three Arab men were shot in separate incidents. A man in his twenties was shot on Haifa's Gush Etzion Street, and he was evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in serious condition. Police are investigating the event.

In Ramle, a man in his forties was shot and evacuated to Assaf Harofeh Hospital in serious condition. His family said he underwent an operation, and his condition has stabilized. In the Bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev, the city engineer was shot in the leg. He was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva in moderate condition, and police arrested a suspect in the shooting, a 25-year-old man from Rahat.

On Thursday, two protest convoys with hundreds of vehicles flying black flags drove from the Arab town of Majd al-Krum in the Galilee and Shoket junction in the Negev to the Prime Minister’s Office Jerusalem. The convoys were part of the roughly 30 protests that have been held throughout the country over the past two weeks over the failure to deal with growing violence in the Arab community.

The same day, Joint List lawmakers met with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to discuss police responses to the crime wave. The three-hour meeting included a presentation on police efforts to curb crime, and Interim Police Commissioner Moti Cohen told participants of plans to conduct an operation to collect illegal weapons in November, adding that police are working hard to combat violence against women.

Another demand raised in the meeting was a budget to place security cameras in Arab communities. The meeting also saw police officers complaining that criticism by Arab public officials was contributing to lack of trust in law enforcement. According to MK Ahmed Tibi, Erdan agreed to the idea in principle but said such a plan needs to be approved as part of the national budget, and said he would bring up the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.