The morning after Tuesday’s attack in Be'er Sheva, the streets in the town of Hura, where the terrorist Muhammad Abu al-Kiyan lived, were almost empty. The few walking around al-Salam Street, where Abu al-Kiyan lived, looked suspiciously at any unfamiliar person passing by.
Many of them declined to speak to me for fear of being questioned by security personnel, after police and Shin Bet forces had raided the neighborhood, and were seen walking around al-Kiyan’s family home minutes after the attack. “There’s tension here, and everyone is afraid,” said resident Nafed Abu al-Kiyan.
He said dozens of local residents who work in Jewish towns didn’t go to work this morning, especially those who work in Be’er Sheva. “Not only Hura residents are afraid, but all residents of the Negev,” he said. “There is fear of retaliation attacks, and people are afraid because of the wave of incitement against Arabs in the Negev recently. We hope there won’t be violence here, because violence will only escalate matters,” he stressed. “We don’t know what made him do this heinous deed. We condemn this deed to the utmost degree, and we demand that leaders on both sides calm tempers so as to prevent another violent incident,” he added.
The Hura local council quickly condemned the attack and dissociated itself from it, calling upon residents to help stem attempts at escalation. “This act represents only its perpetrator. Under our responsibility as elected officials, we condemn any violence, especially the murder of souls,“ said Habis al-Atauna, the mayor. “In the morning we sat, we talked, and we’re in continual meetings with security officials and municipal leaders to bring calm.”
The family of the terrorist also condemned the attack: “We call upon the Israeli intelligence forces to closely monitor the content running wild online. There’s content here entering our homes like drugs, and we have no control over it. We as Arabs in the Negev, if we have some criticism against the government or its policy, we act only in lawful ways. Any act of violence whatsoever is abhorrent.”
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Some of the town’s residents are struggling to come to terms with what happened. “It looks like a brainwashed person. I find it hard to believe that he was normal when he did it. I see the images and I’m horrified. It’s inconceivable,” said Nasser al-Sayed. “I knew him vaguely. He was a quiet person, and didn’t look like a murderous person who could do such a thing. We must learn lessons from such an event, and quickly. First of all to get back to normal. We live here together with our Jewish neighbors, work with them, they buy from us, and we have good relations. We won’t let anything destroy that.”