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5 family members shot dead in northern home, raising toll in Arab community to 188

Six people were killed in two attacks in northern Israel on Wednesday, five of them in a mass shooting, the latest incidents in the worsening crime wave in the Arab community.

A man was gunned down in a daylight shooting in Haifa, apparently mistaken for a relative involved in a criminal feud. According to a preliminary investigation, Atef Abu Kalib, a 50-year-old Haifa resident and junkyard owner, was driving through a main street in the northern city at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday when he was ambushed by two masked gunmen.

The assailants, one of them carrying an automatic weapon, approached the car and shot Abu Kalib dozens of times at short range. The two then escaped in their vehicle.

A few hours later, shortly before 3 p.m., five members of a single family were killed in a shooting inside a house in Basmat Tab’un, a Bedouin village in the north, around 22 kilometers (14 miles) east of Haifa.

The five, three men and two women, were found by Magen David Adom paramedics at the scene of the shooting with bullet wounds and no vital signs and were pronounced dead on the spot. Another man, age 49, was found moderately wounded and taken to a hospital.

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The police were looking into possible links between the two events, according to reports.

אלי לוי דובר המשטרה סיפר הבוקר ב 103 אצל גיא וענת שהמפכ"ל יקיים 3 דיוני הערכות לקראת תפילת בן גביר בככר דידנגוף..
יש מצב שהשר והמפכ"ל יכולים לפנות בבקשה זמן גם לדיון אחד בנושא הטיפול ברציחות.
ככה נראת הבוקר העיר חיפה, חיסול לאור יום…: pic.twitter.com/aUE8ECf9JZ

— Dvir Kariv (@DvirKariv) September 27, 2023

Abu Kalib is believed to have been mistaken for a relative involved in gang war. Police said they were investigating if the incident was revenge for the shooting Saturday night of Edmund Dibi, who was also killed in another apparent case of mistaken identity.

Abu Kalib’s relatives told Hebrew media that he had no gang connections, but reports said he had a relative who was involved in a criminal organization.

The Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group said the killing of Abu Kalib and of the five people in Basmat Tab’un raised the number of Arabs killed in violent circumstances in Israel since the start of the year to 188, compared to 80 during the same period in 2022.

Of those slain this year, 171 were shot, the group said.

The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence. They also point to decades of neglect and discrimination by government offices as the root cause of the problem.

Authorities have blamed burgeoning organized crime and the proliferation of weaponry, while some have pointed to a failure by communities to cooperate with law enforcement to root out criminals.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.