Police suspect that the murder of Sleiman and Aziza al-Rabidi on Wednesday was carefully timed to mark the anniversary of the murder of a member of the rival Abu Amar family, which is entangled in a land dispute with the al-Rabidi family.
Although the police say they know from which car the shots were fired, they have yet to make any arrests.
As in many other cases within the Bedouin community, the shooting of Sleiman and Aziza, both 37, is suspected to be a revenge killing, part of a dispute between families. The police believe that the victims, who were murdered in front of their 8-year-old son, were chosen at random.
The land dispute began after the Bedouin Development Authority started marketing plots in a new neighborhood in the Bedouin town of Lakiya. The new neighborhood is situated close to that of the Abu Amar family. According to a source familiar with the conflict, several dozen members of the al-Rabidi extended family, who were previously living between Be’er Sheva and Shoket Junction, received land in the new neighborhood and moved there.
This angered the Abu Amar family, who had requested to expand into the same neighborhood. When they began selling the plots, the source said, the Abu Amar family tried to take over some of them by force, even though they were offered solutions to accommodate their expanding family in other neighborhoods.
In July of last year, the family conflict reached a new zenith in violence, and a mass altercation, which included gunfire, ensued between the two families. A member of the al-Rabidi family was arrested on suspicion of firing a gun, but denied the charge, saying the fight began after members of the Abu Amar family had trespassed on his property, damaging it and injuring his son. A child from the al-Rabidi family was seriously wounded in the brawl after he was deliberately run over.
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The feud caused an uproar in the local council, with repeated fights breaking out between the two sides, but police could not gain control over the situation. The dispute reached its peak on July 31 of last year, when Uday, a young member of the Abu Amar family, was shot to death during another altercation, in which three other people were injured by gunfire. Police arrested a number of suspects from both families, but the investigation did not lead to any indictments.
Another incident occurred shortly after Uday’s funeral, when a man from the al-Rabidi family was shot and critically wounded. The police believed it was a revenge attack by a member of the Abu Amar family, but they could not solve the case, just as they have not yet managed to solve any of the other cases in the ongoing dispute.