Head of Local Council in Northern Israel Town Allegedly Shoots Dead Local Resident

Council head Salman Amar, who is accused of carrying out the shooting following an argument with the resident, later turned himself into police accompanied by his lawyer.

Scene of the fatal shooting in Julis, September 5, 2016.
Courtesy of Magen David Adom

Salman Amar, the head of the local council in the northern Israeli town of Julis on Monday allegedly shot and killed a local resident  in the square adjoining the council building. The shooting appears to have followed an argument and physical confrontation between the two.

The resident, approximately 30 years old, was critically wounded in the shooting and died a short time later. Amar turned himself in at a nearby police station two hours later, in the company of his lawyer.

Suliman Abu Fandi, the local council's engineer, was in the council building at the time of the shooting. Fandi said he heard noise outside, but initially thought it was related to a scheduled visit by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel to the predominantly Druze town before hearing gunfire. A medic, Taid Quas, said the shooting victim was unconscious when he arrived at the scene. His medical team took steps to stop the bleeding and to resuscitate the victim, but pronounced him dead a short time later.

Amar, the Julis council head, is a former Israel Defense Forces officer who worked as a security consultant after leaving the army and was involved in a variety of businesses in Israel and abroad. He has a Bachelor's degree in sociology and criminology from Bar-Ilan University and Master's degrees from the University of Belgrano in Argentina and from the University of Leicester in England. In 1997, Amar founded a non-profit organization serving university students that is named after his brother, a Golani battalion commander who was killed in Lebanon in 1996.

Sources from the two sides refrained to discuss the details of the incident due to its sensitivity and due to the ongoing investigation of the case, but Julis residents did say that the dispute that precipitated the shooting did not relate to Amar's work as council head. It was sparked, they said, by very personal matters that the sources said they could not discuss, adding that the details were widely known about in Julis.

Soon after the shooting, Julis residents began congregating in the local community center. "It came down on us like thunder on a clear day," said one resident. "Salman [Amar] was considered a symbol of education in Julis and in the Druze community as a whole. He contributed from his own salary to the students."

Following the killing, a reconciliation or "sulhah" council was convened by Druze  leadership including Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafak Tarif and by Knesset members. The chairman of the forum of Druze local governments, Waja Kayuf, told Haaretz that the council has arranged a "hudna" or truce between the two sides until after the Druze Id al-Adha holiday, which is observed next week.

The agreement is also said to include a provision that will require Amar's close relatives to leave Julis, but permitting his wider clan to attend the shooting victim's funeral as they are not viewed as responsible for the death.