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An Israeli Problem

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

The Arab community hasn’t yet recovered from a stormy election campaign filled with hatred and incitement, and it has already been painfully reminded of its wretched situation when it comes to personal security. Within the space of 24 hours this weekend, four Israeli Arabs were murdered in three different locations.

Friday afternoon, a 38-year-old man was murdered while driving through the main square of Kafr Yasif in the western Galilee. Unknown persons had lain in wait for him and shot him at close range in broad daylight.

Three hours later, police announced another suspected murder in the village of Musmus, in the Wadi Ara region. The body of a 35-year-old man was found in a bullet-riddled car in the village. Toward midnight, a man and woman in their thirties were shot at a wedding in Basmat Tabun, east of Tivon. Two other people were wounded in this incident, one seriously and one moderately.

>> Read more: A state of emergency in Arab towns | Haaretz Editorial ■ Criminal neglect: The Israeli government is complicit in the murder of Arab women | Analysis

To these must be added several other shooting incidents in villages in Galilee, the Negev and the center of the country that ended in injury or property damage. What all these incidents have in common is the use of firearms and a lack of deterrence against people who don’t hesitate to shoot in broad daylight, in main city squares or at a weddings with hundreds of guests.

Member of Knesset Ayman Odeh in a protest against Israeli police's failure to protect Arab citizens, Shfaram, Israel, May 20, 2019.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

This weekend’s murders raised the number of Arab homicides since the start of the year to 63. This is a frightening statistic by any standard, which should require the country’s decision makers to adopt special measures and draft a strategic plan to combat violence in Arab society. The Public Security Ministry and the police say they are attentive to this need and even display statistics showing that hundreds of guns have been confiscated in Arab towns. But in practice, the violence is increasing, and organized crime rings are running out of control, with no one to stop them or even make them think twice.

During the election campaign, the issue of fighting violence and the need to prepare a comprehensive plan for this purpose topped the list of demands put forth by the Joint List of Arab-majority parties. This cry must not go unanswered. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that a government headed by the same person who has headed it for the last decade, and who has treated the issue of violence and gun use as an internal Arab matter, will make solving these problems a national goal. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has also demonstrated weakness on this issue.

This is another reason why it’s urgent to replace the Netanyahu government. We must hope Netanyahu’s replacement will offer a better solution to this problem.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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