Three Killed in Shootings in Israeli Arab Cities

Police suspect premeditated attack on an engaged couple, who were shot at while driving. Police say the man had been known to authorities ■ A 33-year-old man was killed in a separate incident overnight

Police respond at the scene of the shooting in Tira, August 30, 2018.
Dudu Bachar

Three people were killed Thursday night in two separate shooting incidents in Israeli Arab communities, according to police. A man and his fiancee were shot in their car at the entrance to the Israeli Arab city of Tira. In the second incident, a 33-year-old man was killed in Jisr as-Zarqa, an Israeli Arab city in the north.

On Friday, police launched an investigation into the second incident, in which three others were wounded.

The couple, Mahmoud Hajaj and Rima Abu Hayat, both age 20, were driving together when several shots were fired at them, police say. After being shot at, Hajaj lost control of the car and crashed into a nearby store.

Mahmoud Hajaj
Rima Abu Hayat

According to preliminary police investigations, the shooting targeted Hajaj, who was known to police. He was found dead at the scene of the shooting, while Abu Hayat was evacuated to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

"We were in the MDA [Magen David Adom] station when we heard the shots on the street," medic Mohammed Mansour said. "We ran out and saw the car on the sidewalk. The driver of the vehicle, a young man of about 20, was unconscious, without a pulse and wasn't breathing, and within a short time his death was determined on the ground. The young woman in the seat next to him was critically injured in her upper body. We transferred her during medical treatment to an ambulance and evacuated her quickly to a hospital when her condition was critical. "

MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List, tweeted in response to the shooting: "A newly engaged young couple was shot in Tira tonight. While Erdan wants to distribute weapons to any person, Arab society is bleeding." Odeh added, "there is no sadder testimony to the police's neglect of handling illegal weapons and crime gangs...while we are fighting for our security, the security of our children, the Information Ministry is playing with firearms."

Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said Friday morning that the killings reflected rampant crime and proliferation of weapons in Arab communities, adding that the main source of arms was smuggling from military bases. The police and military are responsible for failing to put an end to the smuggling, resulting in 1,260 murders, TIbi said.

The shooting in Tira came a few months after another murder in the city. In May, Zubeida Mansur, 19, was shot to death in her home. Mansur lived with her four brothers in their parents' home. A family friend told Haaretz that shortly before she died she left the house and returned breifey. 

A month after the incident, Mansur's family claimed to have given police investigators information about a pre-murder dispute and claimed those they believed to be responsible, but no arrests were made. "Two weeks before her death, she was searched for by a few men who tried to hurt her," Maha said. "They came to her apartment and she locked herself in the bathroom and told us, 'If I die, you will know that I love you.'"