Two Israeli Arab brothers were shot dead in the West Bank on Thursday night, after a vehicle with an Israeli license plate opened fire on them in a suspected feud, according to the Palestinian police.
Shafa and Salah Abu Hussein, from the northern Israel town of Baqa al-Gharbiya were taken to Tul Karm Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
According to several sources in Baqa al-Gharbiya, there was an ongoing conflict between Shafa and criminal groups in the town.
A source familiar with the situation in Baqa al-Gharbiya told Haaretz on Friday morning that the two brothers, and especially Shafa, had lived in Tul Karm in recent months fearing their lives due to a dispute with criminal figures in their home town and outside it.
“He thought that they wouldn’t get to him in Tul Karm, but it turns out that everything is permissible and there are no limits in this conflict,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation, said.
Palestinian police are investigating whether the incident is related to the murder of their mother, Aida Abu Hussein, who was shot dead in her car in October in Baqa al-Gharbiya.
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In July, her nephew Muhammad, from the town of Jatt, was also stabbed to death.
In cases related to crime within Israel, the Palestinian police usually forward the findings onto Israeli police at the end of the investigation.
In wake of the double murder of the brothers from Baqa al-Gharbiya in Tul Karm, the Abraham Initiatives coexistence NGO released data showing that 28 Israeli Arab citizens have been murdered in incidents related to violence or crime since the beginning of this year. Another six non-Israeli Arabs have been murdered during the same period. Firearms were involved in 29 of the incidents, and 21 of the victims were 30 or younger.
The bodies of Shafa and Salah Abu Hussein have been brought to Israel’s Abu Kabir forensic institute for an autopsy.
The Baqa al-Gharbiya Municipality issued a statement condemning the double murder, saying “we can’t turn a blind eye to these crimes any more, in the helplessness of the police in the fight against crime and weapons passing through Arab communities without any consequences.”
Sixty-nine arrested as feud between families escalates
Also on Thursday, Israel police arrested 69 people after a family feud in Ramle descended into exchanges of gunfire, stones and pipe bombs.
Police were called to the scene after reports of several gun shots in Gan Haqal neighborhood. Upon arrival, they came under fire, and one police officer was shot and lightly wounded in the leg and evacuated to hospital.
After back-up arrived, the police detained several suspects involved in the incidents, who will be brought before a judge on Friday to determine whether their detention should be extended. During the raids, a 9mm pistol, ammunition and pipe bombs were seized.
Police commander Maj. Gen. Ronen Avnieli said he views the incident in which a police officer performing his job was injured as "very serious. We will respond severely to anyone who harms police officers."