Seven people were killed in violent incidents across Israel over the weekend. The spike in murders comes just two days after Haaretz reported that despite police data attesting to a decline in homicides in Arab communities, many say they do not feel any safer in their everyday lives.
On Saturday, a 60-year-old man was shot dead in an apartment stairwell in Ramat Gan. Israeli police arrested the 70-year-old shooter at the scene. The suspected murder comes after a family dispute related to the divorce of their respective children.
The killing followed a string of killings on Friday in the north of the country.
Around midnight, a 25-year-old Arab man, Ziad Ayoub, was shot dead in Nahaf. Shortly before the incident, a 42-year-old Jewish resident of Haifa, Gili Mizrahi, was shot in front of a building in the nearby city of Kiryat Ata. He was rushed to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, where he was pronounced dead. Mizrahi was a known criminal, one police source said, and the killing is being investigated as part of a wider criminal feud.
Earlier on Friday night, a 37-year-old Arab resident of Kafr Kara, was shot dead. Police said he was sitting in his car in his own driveway when two suspects arrived in a car, shot him and fled. Police believe he was murdered as part of a family dispute over a driving accident two years ago in the southern Negev region, in which a 79-year-old Bedouin man was killed.
- Israel Police boast of a drop in crime. Then seven Arabs were killed
- Killings in Israel's Arab community have declined, but only a quarter solved this year
- Body of missing woman identified; ex-partner suspected of murder
On Friday, a 24-year-old Jewish man was stabbed to death in the coastal city of Ashkelon. He was pronounced dead at Barzilai Hospital after neighbors discovered him bleeding near an apartment home. Police sources say they suspect the stabbing is part of a wider feud between local drug traffickers.
Early on Friday morning, two Arab men in their mid-20s were found shot dead inside a car in northern Israel. The two men were identified as Mohammad and Ali Fakhouri, two cousins from the city of Nazareth.
Two suspects were also arrested Friday night in the southern Bedouin town of Laqiya in separate stabbing and shooting incidents, although no deaths were reported.
The weekend spate of fatal shootings marks the latest episode in a spike in crime in Israel's Arab communities, just as Israeli police boasted of new figures last month demonstrating a decline in the number of Arabs murdered, which last year reached an unprecedented toll of 126.
Residents of Arab communities say that despite the data presented by the police, there has been little improvement in their sense of personal safety. “There is a feeling that the police saw the figures declining and downshifted; this must not be allowed to happen,” attorney Saeed Haj Yahia, director of the information and data department at the Aman Center – the Arab Center for Safe Society, said.
Israel Police are currently experiencing one of the most difficult months in history: the number of people killed across the country this month already stands at 16, the highest of any month this year. Eleven of the victims were Israeli Arabs. Since the beginning of the year, 59 people in total have been killed in Israel.
The number of Arabs murdered this year now stands at 42, just short of last year's figure of 46. Until the recent series of murders, January, February and March were the bloodiest months this year, with seven murders in Arab communities each month. By comparison, 16 people were murdered in September last year.
"There is no thread connecting all of these difficult events, there is no loss of control for the simple reason that no murder is related to another murder," said one senior police official about the wave of killings this month. "It is a deadly but completely coincidental spike [in killings]."
There has, however, been a pattern in the ability to solve the cases. While the police are generally able to identify and prosecute the suspects in cases involving the deaths of Jews, boasting a 53 percent rate in solving cases, the police remain in the dark when it comes to the killing of Arabs, with only 18 percent of cases resolved.
"We have great difficulty in gathering evidence, this is our main problem in Arab communities" a senior police official admitted. For example, the suspect behind the recent killings in Ramat Gan and Ashkelon are known. However, the police are likely to face great difficulty in getting to the bottom of recent the recent shootings in Haifa.