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Man shot dead near Iksal as crime wave in Arab communities continues unabated

A man was shot dead and two others were injured near the northern town of Iksal on Tuesday morning, as the crime wave enveloping Israel’s Arab community showed no signs of abating.

Police said the man was killed by gunfire directed at his vehicle.

The Magen David Adom emergency service said in a statement that paramedics arrived at the scene of the shooting on Route 60 to find a 30-year-man in serious condition, but were unable to save him and pronounced him dead on the scene.

The man was not formally named, but police said he was from Iksal.

A man in his 50s from Nazareth was in serious condition and one other individual was lightly hurt, Magen David Adom said.

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The fatality was the 167th member of the Arab community to be killed in violent criminal incidents in 2023 — well over double the figure for the same period last year — according to the anti-violence advocacy group the Abraham Initiatives.

Of the fatalities this year, 152 were killed by gunfire.

As the homicide rate has soared, a poll published Friday saw respondents rate National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir — who oversees policing and campaigned on improving personal security — as the worst performing minister in the government.

Last week, thousands of people took part in a protest rally in Haifa excoriating the police for not curbing the wave of violent crime.

Members of the Arab community march in protest against the police failure to curb violence in their community, in Haifa, August 31, 2023. (Flash90)

Many in the Arab community say police have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars, and violence against women. The communities have also suffered from years of neglect by state authorities.

In recent weeks, the wave of violent crime — much of it fueled by feuds between underworld criminal organizations — has appeared to spill over into the upcoming municipal elections, with mayoral candidates and city officials being targeted.

Citing estimates that police sources shared with a senior municipal official, Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, reported last week that just 35 percent of those killed this year are believed to be in crime groups, most of them low-ranking “soldiers.”

Another quarter of the victims are relatives of gangsters but have no involvement in crime themselves, with some believed to have been slain in retaliation killings by rival outfits.

The remaining 40% of the victims were estimated to have killed for accumulating “gray market” debts, over local or business disputes that involved criminals, or for their political or communal activities that the gangs viewed as a threat.

The remainder were simply caught in the crossfire or were the killings of women and children by family members.

Most of the murders remain unsolved.