40-year-old Shot Dead in Galilee Town, Six Years After Brother's Murder

'We are at war, and as such we must use emergency powers,' religious leader calls on police after fatal shooting in Druze town in northern Israel that left a second victim in serious condition

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The scene of the shooting in Beit Jann, in Israel's northern Galilee region, on Friday.
The scene of the shooting in Beit Jann, in Israel's northern Galilee region, on Friday.Credit: Magen David Adom

A 40-year-old man was fatally shot on Friday outside a hardware store he owned in his town of Beit Jann, a Druze community in the Galilee, prompting calls for law enforcement to do more to prevent gun violence.

Police suspect the shooting that killed Bassam Kablan and seriously wounded another man is part of an ongoing family feud, but have not made any arrests so far.

The victim's brother is the former head of the Beit Jann local council, Bayan Kablan. Another brother, Hussein, was murdered in 2016 in the neighboring town of Rameh, in a case police have never solved.

According to medics at the scene in Beit Jann, Kablan was shot in his car, in the store's parking lot. A 50-year-old man that was with him was also hit, according to emergency medical service Magen David Adom. He was taken to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, where he was put in an induced coma and is on a breathing machine.

The victim, Bassam Kablan

The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, an Arabic-speaking religious group that accounts for less than 2 percent of the country's population, pinned the blame for the shooting on police inaction.

"Israel Police can't prevent murders in the heart of an Israeli community and in broad daylight," Sheikh Muwafak Tarif said, adding that he has warned government agencies and defense officials for "quite a while". According to him, "We are at war, and as such we must use emergency powers."

“Never in my life did I hear Bassam fight with anyone," a resident of Beit Jann who knew him said. "He is a very good man with a very good reputation in the village."

"Even when Hussein, his brother, was murdered six year ago, shortly after he was released from active duty in the Border Police, the whole village was in shock," he added. "We still don’t know who murdered him and why.”

The town's mayor, Radi Najm, condemned the shooting "in the name of all residents, council members and employees," adding: "This horrible violence must come to an end."

On Friday, 28-year-old Ali Hasarma was shot to death in northern Israel Friday night while another was seriously wounded in what police suspect is in retaliation for Hasarma's killing.

According to Haaretz's tally, 49 people were murdered in the Arab community in 2022 so far, an average of one death every four days.

On Tuesday, Mohammed Qassem Sumri, 31, was killed in Jadeidi-Makr, a town west of Beit Jann. On Saturday, 24-year-old Mohammed Khamis Ammas was shot dead near a café his family owns in Jisr al-Zarqa, a coastal town further south, in what witnesses described as a targeted assassination.

In both cases, police said they suspect the murders were connected to ongoing disputes. No suspects have been apprehended.

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